UPDATE 1-Delhaize beats profit expectations by cutting costs

Wed Nov 7, 2012 2:13am EST

* Q3 adj op profit 231 mln euros vs 194 mln expected

* Says refurbished Food Lion stores grew sales

BRUSSELS Nov 7 (Reuters) - Belgium-based supermarket group Delhaize beat third-quarter profit expectations as it paid lower bonuses in the United States and cut costs, the company said on Wednesday.

Sales in the United States, where the group makes about 65 percent of its revenues, were 1.6 percent lower on a like-for-like basis and in line with expectations, as retail inflation turned into deflation in the quarter.

At its largest U.S. supermarket chain Food Lion, which has undergone a restructuring programme, sales were flat on a comparable basis.

The Food Lion stores that were refurbished all showed an increase in revenues, the group said.

Like-for-like sales at the group's Belgian unit increased 0.6 percent in the third quarter. Analysts had expected a small decline.

The group said competition in Belgium remained intense and Belgian laws that require salaries to grow in line with inflation impacted margins.

Delhaize repeated its 2012 guidance for a 15 to 20 percent fall in underlying operating profit, with the result being most likely at the lower end of this range.

Delhaize's shares have shed about a third of their value since the start of 2012.

Operating profit in the third quarter, adjusted for one off items, fell 8.1 percent at identical exchange rates to 231 million euros ($296 million), above the 194 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of eight analysts.