* Q3 operating profit at 25.5 bln yen
* Keeps annual op prof outlook at Y210-220 bln
* Shares fall 7 pct in 2012 vs. 23 pct benchmark surge
By James Topham
TOKYO, Jan 11 Japan's Aeon Co posted a
5.5 percent fall in nine-month operating profit as soft consumer
demand and increased competition at its general merchandise and
grocery stores dented revenues, but the company maintained its
annual profit forecast.
Aeon, which competes at home with Seven & I Holdings Co
and Seiyu Group, the Japanese arm of Wal-Mart Stores
Inc, reported on Friday an March-November operating
profit of 96.2 billion yen ($1.1 billion). For the September to
November quarter, Aeon posted an operating profit of 25.5
The quarterly figures were supported by a rise in profit at
affiliate Aeon Credit Service Co and from a low
baseline after shoppers cut back on purchases in the same period
in 2011 after stockpiling goods in the immediate months
following that year's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The owner of Aeon Retail supermarkets as well as slew of
other retail formats from bicycle shops to shopping malls
maintained its operating profit outlook for the year to February
at 210-220 billion yen, against the average estimate of 204.8
billion yen in a poll of 13 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
On Tuesday, rival Seven & I booked a 4.8 percent gain in
quarterly operating profit as higher profits from its core
7-Eleven convenience stores were boosted by stronger income
figures at its other retail formats.
Japanese convenience store chains, with their expanded
outlets and offerings, including daily essentials like
vegetables and cooking oils as well as lower-priced
private-label goods, have helped pull customers away from other
Shares of Aeon fell 7 percent in 2012 calendar year,
compared with a 23 percent surge in the benchmark Nikkei average
. Before the earnings announcement, Aeon settled 0.7
percent higher, against the Nikkei's 1.4 rise.