December 15, 2011 / 1:10 PM / 6 years ago

Carrefour's French market share declines - data

* French hypermarkets mkt share down 0.9 pct points in Nov

* Carrefour’s earnings guidance seen at risk - analysts

* Carrefour declines to comment

* Carrefour shares off 0.3 pct, shares down 46 pct this year

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Carrefour continued to lose market share to unlisted rivals in its core French market in November, data showed, adding to fears Europe’s largest retailer might issue another profit warning next month.

Carrefour, which is due to publish its fourth-quarter sales on Jan. 19, declined to comment.

Carrefour shares have lost 46 percent this year following a string of profit downgrades and strategy U-turns, stoking speculation that chief executive Lars Olofsson may not survive another warning. .

According to data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel, the market share of Carrefour’s French hypermarkets dropped by 0.9 percentage points to 11.3 percent last month, while that of privately held Leclerc rose by 0.8 points to 18.3 percent.

Smaller French rival Casino saw its market share decline by 0.2 points, while unlisted Auchan lost 0.1 points.

The development is a fresh blow to Carrefour, which has been trying to boost flagging hypermarket sales in France through price cuts and is also in the midst of an ambitious plan to revive its hypermarket format in Europe.

“Doubts about Carrefour’s ability to deliver on its results guidance can only increase,” said CM-CIC analyst Christian Devismes.

Since German retailer Metro issued a profit warning earlier this month, saying the euro-zone debt crisis was undermining consumer confidence, doubts have grown over the ability of other retailers to weather the storm.

On Thursday, brokerage ING downgraded Carrefour to “sell”, saying declining consumer confidence in mature markets put its already reduced 2011 profit guidance at risk.

“Carrefour needs good fourth-quarter 2011 sales, especially in hypermarkets, to reach its lowered full-year 2011 EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) guidance of a 15-20 percent decline,” ING analysts said in a note.

“We believe this target is vulnerable to decreasing consumer confidence all over Europe, triggered by the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and by expected new austerity measures,” they added, highlighting Carrefour’s high exposure to discretionary non-food spending and southern European markets.

ING now targets 2011 EBIT of 2.12 billion euros ($2.75 billion), which would represent a 22.5 percent decline from 2010 earnings, adjusted for the spin-off of Carrefour’s Dia discount unit.

At 1305 GMT, Carrefour shares were down 0.3 percent at 16.57 euros, compared with a 0.6 percent rise on the STOXX Europe 600 retail index. ($1 = 0.7721 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Editing by Mark Potter)

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