UPDATE 1-Delhaize Q1 profit beats forecast on Belgium boost

* Q1 operating profit 241 mln euros vs 236 mln euro forecast

* Belgian store sales stronger than expected, U.S. in line

* Repeats sees 2010 operating profit growth of 7-10 pct

(Adds details, background)

BRUSSELS, May 5 (BestGrowthStock) – Belgian supermarket group
Delhaize (DELB.BR: ) reported first-quarter earnings above
expectations on Wednesday, helped by strong growth in Belgium
and cost savings.

First-quarter operating profit rose 1.7 percent at constant
exchange rates to 241 million euros ($321 million), beating the
average forecast of 236 million euros in a Reuters poll. Revenue
grew at the same rate. [ID:nLDE63S1NX]

“Our group continues to post revenue growth despite a tough
comparison with last year’s highly inflationary environment and
significant price investments,” Chief Executive Pierre-Olivier
Beckers said in a statement.

Like-for-like sales in Belgium were up 4.3 percent, compared
with an expected 3.1 percent rise.

The group said it had gained market share every week there
since the start of 2009. Analysts said strikes at French
retailer Carrefour’s (CARR.PA: ) Belgian stores would also have
boosted sales.

In the U.S., comparable store sales fell by 1.8 percent,
exactly in line with expectations, with deflation compared with
high inflation a year earlier.

Delhaize repeated it was aiming to cut 300 million euros in
annual costs by 2012 under a plan announced in December, to
allow it to lower prices and expand its faster-growing budget
stores and in emerging markets.

The retailer also kept its forecast for operating profit
growth of 7 to 10 percent in 2010 at identical exchange rates,
with most of that growth generated in the second half of the

Investment Advice
(Reporting by Antonia van de Velde; editing by Elaine

UPDATE 1-Delhaize Q1 profit beats forecast on Belgium boost