Japanese retailers give first taste of quake profit impact

* FamilyMart to report annual earnings at 0430 gmt, Seven &
I at 0600 gmt

* Fast Retailing, operator of Uniqlo chain, to report H1
results around 0600 gmt

* Forecasts to give investors chance to gauge quake impact
on consumer spending

By James Topham

TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) – Seven & I Holdings ,
Japan’s biggest retailer, and top casual clothing chain Fast
Retailing will give investors a chance to gauge how the
March 11 earthquake will impact consumer spending when they
report earnings on Thursday.

Apart from damaged stores, retailers are also having to cope
with a post-quake shift in spending habits. Urged to curb
unnecessary spending in television ads, shoppers have eschewed
non-essential and luxury items and stocked up on basics such as
rice, water, bread and toilet paper.

The crisis at a crippled nuclear plant about 240 kilometres
north of Tokyo is also expected to weigh on consumer sentiment,
and investors worry that department stores and other retailers
selling high-end goods could take the hardest hit.

The first major retailer to announce earnings on Thursday is
FamilyMart Co , Japan’s third-largest convenience store.
It will unveil its results for the year ended in February and
likely give a forecast for the current year at 0430 GMT.

Seven & I, which gets the bulk of its profits from its
industry leading Seven-Eleven convenience store chain, is due to
report earnings at 0600 GMT, followed around the same time by
Fast Retailing, which is announcing first-half results.

Seven & I is expected to post an operating profit of 267
billion yen in the current year to February 2012, according to
the average of four analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S
who gave estimates after the quake. That would mark a rise of 11
percent above Seven & I’s estimate for the year just ended.

Investors are focused on whether Fast Retailing, operator of
the Uniqlo chain, keeps its operating profit forecast for the
business year to end-August at 113.5 billion yen, 14.3 percent
lower than a year ago. The market consensus is for 117.4 billion
from a poll of 21 analysts.

Fast Retailing announced last week that sales at existing
Uniqlo stores fell 10.5 percent in March from a year earlier,
reflecting the impact of earthquake and tsunami, which kept
customers away and forced it to close several outlets.

Seven & I’s main rival, Aeon Co. , said last month
it expects to be able to absorb the costs of the quake damage
and would likely be able to post higher profits this
year.[ID:nL3E7EP08S]. Aeon releases its earnings on April 14.

Other retailers are more pessimistic. Nitori Holdings Co
, which operates a chain of furniture and interior goods
stories, earlier this week predicted its first annual profit
decline in 25 years, citing the disaster and higher materials
prices. [ID:nL3E7F418R].

(Reporting by James Topham; Editing by Tim Kelly and Nathan

Japanese retailers give first taste of quake profit impact