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Woolworths post 27 per cent jump in second-half profit

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Australia’s largest supermarket chain Woolworths Ltd posted a 27 per cent rise in second-half profit. The second-half net profit of A$598.4 million compared favourably against A$471 million last year. The Sydney-based company has also managed to extract market share from Melbourne-based rival Coles Group Ltd.

Woolworths CEO Michael Luscombe told reporters he expected the company’s share of Australia’s supermarkets and liquor market to further grow, from the present 29 per cent. Admittedly, the company will keep looking out for acquisition opportunities around the globe.

“We maintain a very active book of potential acquisitions,” Luscombe said.

Woolworths, which has been cutting prices to protect its dominant position, has earned full-year net profit of A$1.294 billion – a 27.5 per cent increase.

“Woolworths’ result was very strong and the dividend payout reflects its confidence leading into full year 2008,” Citigroup analysts said in a note to clients.

In a statement, Woolworths said it expected net income to rise as much as 23 per cent in the year ended June 29, 2008. The forecast implies profit of A$1.59 billion ($1.3 billion). Woolworths expects sales to grow between 7 per cent and 10 per cent.

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