October 12, 2012 / 6:50 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1- Japan's Aeon Q2 profit falls 17.3 pct, keeps annual forecast

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* Quarterly operating profit drops 17.3 pct

* Retains full-year profit forecast

TOKYO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Japan's top supermarket operator Aeon Co Ltd booked a 17.3 percent drop in operating profit in the June-August quarter compared with last year, as a result of lower sales at its supermarkets and convenience stores, but the firm retained its full-year profit forecast.

Aeon, which ranks second to Japan's top general retailer, Seven & I Holdings Co in terms of market capitalisation and competes with Seiyu, the Japanese arm of Wal-Mart Stores , posted on Friday a June-August operating profit of 39.7 billion yen ($505.67 million).

That fell short of a median estimate of 50.25 billion yen in a poll of 13 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The owner of supermarkets as well as convenience stores, boutiques and shopping malls, stuck to its forecast for a 210-220 billion yen operating profit in its business year to next February. The average estimate was 212 billion yen in a poll of 13 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

A decline in demand after last year's post-quake sales bounce, and intense competition over food prices at big stores has weighed on profits at Japan's major general retailers this quarter.

Aeon's first half operating profit was down 7.5 percent year-on-year.

Shares in Aeon have fallen about 19 percent in the year to date, underperforming a nearly 2 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei average.

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