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Portugal's Sonae ekes out Q3 profit as sales rise on easing lockdown

LISBON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Portugal’s largest retailer Sonae eked out a 1.6% rise in third-quarter net profit on robust sales as the economy emerged out of a lockdown, helping it rebound from a loss in the preceding three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, which runs around 300 Continente hypermarkets and large supermarkets, Worten consumer electronics stores, Sportzone stores and other retail chains, said late on Wednesday its net profit reached 51 million euros ($60 million) in July-September.

Consolidated sales rose 5.9% to 1.77 billion euros in the third quarter, with sales from the food retail unit Sonae MC increasing 7.4% to 1.34 billion euros, the company said.

“In this context of the pandemic, Sonae continued to show a very resilient performance,” Sonae’s Chief Executive Officer Claudia Azevedo said in a statement, highlighting the company’s ability “to innovate and adapt quickly”.

Portugal’s GDP, in which private consumption makes up about two-thirds, expanded 13.2% in the third quarter, rebounding from a record slump of 13.9% in April-June marked by a nationwide lockdown, although it still contracted sharply from a year ago due to the pandemic.

Some restrictions are still in effect after the lockdown and new ones have been introduced recently.

Sonae said its underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), rose 8.6% to 177 million euros between July and September from a year ago, while the underlying EBITDA margin - a measure of profitability - increased 0.2 percentage points to 10%.

The company also reduced its net debt by 19% to 1.23 billion euros in September from a year ago. ($1 = 0.8481 euros) (By Sergio Goncalves, editing by Andrei Khalip and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)