Carrefour to boost 2013 capex, 2012 profit down

PARIS, March 7 Thu Mar 7, 2013 1:32am EST

PARIS, March 7 (Reuters) - Carrefour, Europe's biggest retailer, said it would boost capital spending this year to revive its struggling hypermarkets after 2012 profits fell 2.6 percent, depressed by falling demand in recession-hit Spain and Italy.

The French retailer, which is battling to reverse years of underperformance in Europe, said it would invest between 2.2 billion and 2.3 billion euros against 1.547 billion last year, above analysts' expectations of 1.955 billion euros for 2013.

Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer behind Wal-Mart, reported 2012 operating profit fell to 2.140 billion euros, still topping analysts' expectations for 2.061 billion euros in a ThomsonReuters I/B/E/S poll.

Carrefour, which has been selling non-core assets to raise cash to defend positions in key markets of western Europe, China and Brazil and strengthen its balance sheet, said net debt declined by 2.6 billion euros to 4.320 billion at end-2012.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Christian Plumb)