BERLIN (Reuters) - Shares in Metro fell sharply on Thursday after the German wholesale group reported another quarter of falling sales at its Russian business and an impairment charge on the Real hypermarkets chain it is selling.
The stock, which had rallied on Wednesday on relief that Metro is closer to shedding the struggling Real chain, was down 7 percent at 1038 GMT.
Metro said like-for-like sales fell by 4 percent in Russia in the fiscal second quarter, as steps it has taken to revive the business such as price cuts took effect more slowly than expected.
Chief Executive Olaf Koch told journalists he still sees improvements coming in the Russian business but declined to say when he expected it to return to growth, noting sluggish consumer sentiment in the country.
Like-for-like sales at its Real hypermarkets, which it records as a discontinued business, fell by 5.1 percent, mainly due to Easter falling outside the quarter this year.
Metro has been restructuring over the past few years to focus on its cash-and-carry business, selling Kaufhof department stores and then splitting from consumer electronics group Ceconomy.
Metro revealed exclusive talks on Wednesday to sell Real hypermarkets to a consortium led by real estate investor Redos. Metro also said it would take a 385 million euro ($430.89 million) impairment charge on the loss-making chain.
Analysts expressed concern that Metro will initially retain a 24.9 percent stake in the operating business, although it has a “put” option to sell that holding which could be exercised after three years.
“The minority stake that Metro holds will make them liable for future cash injections to cover operating losses and potential social costs from store closures,” said Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne, who rates Metro “underperform”.
For the group as a whole, sales came in at 6.8 billion euros, a like-for-like increase of 1.2 percent, driven by eastern Europe. That beat analyst forecasts for 6.7 billion.
Metro reported a loss per share from continuing operations of 0.09 euros, versus analyst expectations for a loss of 0.12 euros.
Reporting by Emma Thomasson and Matthias Inverardi; Editing by Michelle Martin and Jane Merriman