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South Africa's Woolworths reports profit up 27.3 percent
August 29, 2013 / 6:07 AM / 4 years ago

South Africa's Woolworths reports profit up 27.3 percent

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African retailer Woolworths (WHLJ.J) reported a 27.3 percent rise in full-year profit on Thursday, reflecting the resilience of its upscale customer base as the rest of the consumer market struggles with high personal debt.

A man leaves a Woolworths shop in Sandton, northern Johannesburg, January 28, 2009. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Woolworths, which sells luxury food products and clothing, said headline earnings per share (EPS) totaled 340.4 cents in the year to end-June compared with 267.3 a year earlier.

That was broadly in line with a 339 cents estimate by Thomson Reuters StarMine, which puts more weight on more recent forecasts and those from top-rated analysts.

Headline EPS, South Africa’s primary profit gauge, strips out certain one-off items.

Retailers in Africa’s biggest economy are struggling to grow sales at a faster pace as consumers rein in spending due to high personal debt, unemployment and rising fuel and transport prices.

But Woolworths, similar in style and products to Britain’s Marks & Spencer MKS.N, is faring better as high income consumers continue to splash out on its upscale groceries and apparel.

Sales rose 23.2 percent to 35.2 billion rand ($3.40 billion), with food sales recording 15.4 percent growth. Sales were also boosted by Woolworths’ purchase last year of Australian fashion retailer Witchery Group.

Shares in the Cape Town-based company are down about 15 percent so far this year, underperforming a 10 percent gain in the JSE Top-40 index .JTOPI.

Reporting by Sherilee Lakmidas, writing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Pascal Fletcher

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