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Tesco profit rises 9%, meets Street


London Tesco PLC reported Tuesday that annual net profit rose by 9.1%, meeting analysts' forecasts.

For the 52-week period ending Feb. 27, the retailer reported a net profit of 2.33 billion pounds ($3.58 billion), compared with 2.1 billion pounds a year ago. The performance was helped by growth in the Asian markets.

Analysts had expected a net profit of 2.32 billion pounds.

Revenue rose 5.6% to 57 billion pounds, boosted by one extra week’s reportings.

CEO Sir Terry Leahy said, “Our positions in international markets and nonfood meant we faced strong headwinds when the downturn came but it will be these parts of our business which will grow fastest as the recovery strengthens."

He also said the group's divisions are now stronger than they were before the recession, helped by tighter cost controls and growth in market share.

U.K. sales were up 4.2% for the year, and trading profit rose nearly 7% to 2.4 billion pounds, Tesco said. If that was disappointing to analysts, the company argued that it was growing faster than its competition, which includes Wal-Mart's Asda, J Sainsbury and Morrison Supermarkets in the United Kingdom. Same-store sales growth in the United Kingdom slowed to 2.7% in the second half of the year from 3.7% in the first half.

In Asia, Tesco said sales were up 15% at constant exchange rates, and added that it is seeing improving sales trends in all its Asian businesses except Japan, where economic conditions remain subdued.

Sales in European stores outside the United Kingdom were down nearly 1%.

In the United States, sales were up 58% as the company opened new Fresh & Easy stores but Tesco still posted a trading loss of 165 million pounds. The company said it planned to open more stores at a one-a-week pace, and said it believed losses in the United States had peaked.

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