Zimbabwe retail group OK H1 earnings up 21 pct

HARARE Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:25am EST

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HARARE Nov 22 (Reuters) - Retail group OK Zimbabwe posted a 21 percent rise in first-half earnings on Thursday, driven by continued sales growth in an economy recovering from a decade of contraction.

OK Zimbabwe reported earnings per share of 0.46 cents in the six months to September, up from 0.38 cents a year earlier.

The retailer said the rate of growth in sales had slowed down this year compared to the previous three years since Zimbabwe adopted the use of foreign currencies to replace its own unit, which was destroyed when hyperinflation reached 500 billion percent in December 2008.

This is due to a slow down in Zimbabwe's economy, which is expected to grow 4.4 percent in 2012, compared to 9.3 percent in 2011. The government has revised its initial growth forecast of 9.4 percent for 2012 mainly due to a poor harvest and lower-than-expecte diamond revenues.

Revenue for the period was $231.2 million, a 25 percent increase on $185.6 million registered in the same period last year. After-tax profit was $4.86 million, up from $3.86 million previously.

Zimbabwe's retail sector is one of the fastest growing in an economy that is on the mend under a power-sharing government formed in 2009 by long-ruling President Robert Mugabe and former opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; editing by David Dolan)

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