Ahold reports quarterly results above expectations

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Dutch retailer Ahold reported on Tuesday a 6.2-percent net profit rise over the figure for the same period last year, beating market analysts' forecasts.

Net profit rose to 291 million euros ($426 million) for the first quarter of 2011. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected about 280 million euros.

Ahold said its figures resulted from an 8.6-percent rise in operating profit as well as a reduction in income taxes, which then compensated for lower profits by its joint ventures.

The group which owned various retail outlets including Dutch supermarket giant Albert Heijn, said total sales rose by 5.9 percent to 9.25 billion euros, also beating the 9.12 billion euro figure forecast by analysts.

Ahold's sales increase was particularly notable in the United States where the Dutch group runs its brands Giant and Stop and Shop.

US sales climbed by 7.4 percent to $7.6 billion (5.17 billion euros) despite less favourable exchange rates than in the first quarter of 2010.

"In the United States we had particularly strong sales and margins, particularly due to the timing of Easter," Ahold chief executive Dick Boer said.

"In the Netherlands, margins were impacted by increasing inflation which was not fully passed on to customers," he said in a press release.

The company posted a net sales increase of 3.9 percent in the Netherlands to a total of 3.2 billion euros -- where its multitude of Albert Heijn, Gall and Gall and Etos brands dominated the market.

In the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, where Ahold operates under the brands Albert and Hypernova, sales were up by 9.8 percent owing to favourable exchange rates, the company said.

© 2011 AFP

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