April 7, 2011 / 3:36 AM / in 7 years

Japanese retailers give first taste of quake profit impact

* FamilyMart to report annual earnings at 0430 gmt, Seven & I at 0600 gmt

* Fast Retailing, operator of Uniqlo chain, to report H1 results around 0600 gmt

* Forecasts to give investors chance to gauge quake impact on consumer spending

By James Topham

TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) - Seven & I Holdings , Japan’s biggest retailer, and top casual clothing chain Fast Retailing will give investors a chance to gauge how the March 11 earthquake will impact consumer spending when they report earnings on Thursday.

Apart from damaged stores, retailers are also having to cope with a post-quake shift in spending habits. Urged to curb unnecessary spending in television ads, shoppers have eschewed non-essential and luxury items and stocked up on basics such as rice, water, bread and toilet paper.

The crisis at a crippled nuclear plant about 240 kilometres north of Tokyo is also expected to weigh on consumer sentiment, and investors worry that department stores and other retailers selling high-end goods could take the hardest hit.

The first major retailer to announce earnings on Thursday is FamilyMart Co , Japan’s third-largest convenience store. It will unveil its results for the year ended in February and likely give a forecast for the current year at 0430 GMT.

Seven & I, which gets the bulk of its profits from its industry leading Seven-Eleven convenience store chain, is due to report earnings at 0600 GMT, followed around the same time by Fast Retailing, which is announcing first-half results.

Seven & I is expected to post an operating profit of 267 billion yen in the current year to February 2012, according to the average of four analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S who gave estimates after the quake. That would mark a rise of 11 percent above Seven & I’s estimate for the year just ended.

Investors are focused on whether Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo chain, keeps its operating profit forecast for the business year to end-August at 113.5 billion yen, 14.3 percent lower than a year ago. The market consensus is for 117.4 billion from a poll of 21 analysts.

Fast Retailing announced last week that sales at existing Uniqlo stores fell 10.5 percent in March from a year earlier, reflecting the impact of earthquake and tsunami, which kept customers away and forced it to close several outlets.

Seven & I’s main rival, Aeon Co. , said last month it expects to be able to absorb the costs of the quake damage and would likely be able to post higher profits this year.[ID:nL3E7EP08S]. Aeon releases its earnings on April 14.

Other retailers are more pessimistic. Nitori Holdings Co , which operates a chain of furniture and interior goods stories, earlier this week predicted its first annual profit decline in 25 years, citing the disaster and higher materials prices. [ID:nL3E7F418R]. (Reporting by James Topham; Editing by Tim Kelly and Nathan Layne)

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