Japan retailer Aeon 9-mth profit falls, maintains outlook

TOKYO Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:08am EST

TOKYO Jan 11 (Reuters) - Japan's Aeon Co posted a 5.5 percent fall in nine-month operating profit as soft consumer demand and increased competition at its general merchandise and grocery stores dented revenues, but the company maintained its annual profit forecast.

Aeon, which competes at home with Seven & I Holdings Co and Seiyu Group, the Japanese arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, reported on Friday an March-November operating profit of 96.2 billion yen ($1.1 billion).

The owner of Aeon Retail supermarkets as well as slew of other retail formats from bicycle shops to shopping malls kept its operating profit outlook for the year to February at 210-220 billion yen, against the average estimate of 204.8 billion yen in a poll of 13 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Aeon fell 7 percent in 2012 calendar year, compared with a 23 percent surge in the benchmark Nikkei average .

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