UPDATE 2-Delhaize keeps 2010 outlook as U.S. improves in Q3

* Q3 op profit 249 mln euros vs 238 mln forecast

* Keeps 2010 outlook

* U.S. improves but environment remains challenging

(Adds company and analyst quotes, market reaction)

BRUSSELS, Nov 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Belgian supermarket group
Delhaize (DELB.BR: ) kept its 2010 outlook as a declining sales
trend in the United States eased and new store openings boosted
revenue in Belgium in the third quarter.

Operating profit in the third quarter rose 1.2 percent, when
adjusted for currency changes, to 249 million euros ($343.1
million), ahead of the 238 million euros forecast in a Reuters
poll of nine analysts.

“The positive trend in the U.S. combined with strong
performances in Belgium and Greece enables us to generate a
healthy and stable operating profit margin,” CEO Pierre-Olivier
Beckers said.

Shares of the group were one of the top gainers on the
FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares, gaining as
much as 7.31 percent.
Delhaize, which makes about 70 percent of its sales in the
United States, said that trading in the key U.S. market was
aided by a strong performance at Hannaford and improving sales
trends at Food Lion.

It added, however, that the economic and competitive
environment remained challenging, especially in the southeast of
the United States, where its Food Lion stores operate.

In October, U.S. peer Safeway (SWY.N: ) said a drop in prices
had moderated in the third quarter. [ID:nN14219958]. Delhaize
said retail inflation was flat.

“We have seen some relief in terms of Wal Mart (WMT.N: ) and
the roll back of the rollbacks if you will, so we stay on
strategy. We will pass cost increases along, as long as it fits
within the retail price strategy that we have going forward,”
Ron Hodge chief executive of Delhaize’s U.S. operations said.

In its Belgian home market, where Delhaize is the largest
player ahead of Colruyt (COLR.BR: ) and France’s Carrefour
(CARR.PA: ) according to recent data from ACNielsen, revenues
increased due to new store openings, with comparable store sales

Delhaize lowered its 2010 outlook after its second-quarter
results in August and several analysts believed it would have to
cut again. However, it did not do so.

“If you look at the average market expectation, there was a
lot of concern that the group would warn again. I was
disappointed by the Belgian same store sales but they say that
this was due to tough comparables from the year before,” analyst
Fernand de Boer at Petercam said.

Delhaize said that it is still interested in making

“It could be in Europe just as it could be in the U.S. We
are interested in making an acquisition in the Balkans if we
could find the appropriate target. We are present in Romania, we
are present in Greece but could be interested in a number of
countries in the Balkans,” Chief Executive Pierre-Olivier
Beckers told analysts.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop
and Andrew Callus)

UPDATE 2-Delhaize keeps 2010 outlook as U.S. improves in Q3