September 13, 2018 / 6:17 AM / a month ago

UK's Morrisons beats forecasts with 9 pct rise in first half profit

LONDON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Morrisons, Britain’s fourth biggest grocer, beat forecasts with a 9 percent rise in first half profit, and reported an eleventh straight quarter of underlying sales growth, boosted by moves to broaden its business into wholesale.

For the six months to Aug. 5 the Bradford, northern England, based firm made an underlying pretax profit of 193 million pounds ($251.4 million) - just ahead of analysts’ average forecast of 192 million pounds and up from 177 million pounds made in the same period last year.

Group like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT sales tax, rose 6.3 percent in its second quarter, a nine-year high, having risen 3.6 percent in the first quarter.

Morrisons increased its interim dividend 11.4 percent to 1.85 pence and is also paying a special dividend of 2 pence. ($1 = 0.7677 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young)

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