MELBOURNE Feb 14 Australia's Wesfarmers Ltd
beat expectations with a 9.3 percent rise in first-half
net profit and said it was cautiously optimistic for the second
half as it expects growth in its retail business.
Wesfarmers, which has retail, coal and insurance businesses
said net profit in the six months to Dec. 31 rose to A$1.285
billion. Analysts had expected A$1.216 billion, according to the
average of three forecasts.
The stock rose 2.2 percent to A$39.28 after the result,
outperforming a 0.3 percent rise for the broader market.
"We expect growth from the group's retail businesses as we
further improve customer offers and operating efficiencies,"
said Chief Executive Richard Goyder.
Goyder was cautiously optimistic for the second half despite
continuing economic and market uncertainty, and challenging
conditions in resources, Wesfarmers said in a statement.
For its Coles supermarkets, first-half earnings before
interest and tax (EBIT) rose 15 percent to A$755 million. EBIT
for home improvement chain Bunnings grew 7 percent, while EBIT
for Officeworks climbed 12 percent and at discount store Kmart
But earnings fell at discount department store Target, with
EBIT down 20 percent.
Lower export coal prices and a strong Australian dollar led
to lower resources earnings despite lower operating costs,
Wesfarmers said. Resources EBIT fell 63 percent.
(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)