TOKYO, April 10 Aeon Co Ltd, Japan's largest retailer, forecast record operating profit for the fiscal year ending next February, aiming to regain its footing after tough competition from convenience stores contributed to a profit fall last year.
Aeon on Thursday posted operating profit of 171.4 billion yen ($1.68 billion) for the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, down 10.1 percent from the year before and in line with last month's lowered estimate of 170 billion yen.
The supermarket operator cut its estimate after falling short of cost reduction targets at its general merchandise stores, while it has been hit by stiff competition, especially from aggressively expanding convenience stores.
Aeon forecast a rise of about 20 percent in operating profit this fiscal year to 200 billion to 210 billion yen, compared with an average forecast of 201.66 billion yen from 14 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company also said it would boost capital expenditure to 530 billion yen from 408.4 billion yen.
Shares of Aeon closed up 0.2 percent ahead of the earnings release, compared with a benchmark index which ended flat.
($1 = 101.8500 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu; Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Christopher Cushing)