UPDATE 1-South Africa's Shoprite lifts first-half profit

Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:52am EST

* Headline EPS at 316 cents vs 280.8 cents

* Sales up 13.8 percent to 46.7 bln rand

* Shares fall nearly 3 percent (Adds details, shares)

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Shoprite Holdings Ltd , Africa's biggest grocer, reported a 12.5 percent rise in first-half profit, helped by a robust performance from its stores outside its mainstay South African market.

Shoprite, which also runs stores in several other African countries, said headline earnings per share totalled 316 cents in the six months to end-December compared with 280.8 cents a year earlier.

Headline EPS, the main profit gauge in South Africa, strips out certain one-off items.

Sales rose 13.8 percent to 46.7 billion rand ($5.26 billion), boosted by 28.2 percent sales growth in supermarkets outside South Africa and a weaker rand.

But shares in Shoprite, which have dropped by about 14 percent so far this year, skidded 2.7 percent to 173.28 rand by 0725 GMT as profit growth fail to justify high multiples.

The stock would have to fall by a another 5 percent to meet what Thomson Reuters StarMine estimates as a level that justifies Shoprite's expected growth.

After more than two years as investors' darlings, South African retailers are falling out favour on growing concerns about the strength of debt-fuelled consumer spending in Africa's biggest economy.

Shoprite said it would be able to main its current growth and profitability in the second half thanks to aggressive new store openings and a cost-efficient supply chain. ($1 = 8.8816 South African rand) (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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