Australia's Woolworths says core Q2 sales up 2.5 pct

MELBOURNE Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:43pm EST

MELBOURNE Jan 31 (Reuters) - Australian supermarket operator Woolworths Ltd reported a 2.5 percent rise in second-quarter same-store food and liquor sales on Thursday and maintained earnings guidance for the year.

The result missed forecasts for a 2.8 percent rise, according to a Reuters survey of seven analysts, and compares with 3.9 percent growth in food and liquor sales at rival Wesfarmers via its Coles supermarkets.

Woolworths and Coles -- which together control over 70 percent of Australia's grocery sector -- have slashed the cost of basic items such as milk, bread and vegetables as they compete.

Woolworths shares reached a five-year high of A$32.06 earlier this week. (Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Richard Pullin)