Sainsbury's supermarkets report 3Q sales up 4.2 percent

J. Sainsbury PLC, Britain's third-largest supermarket chain, reported Thursday that sales in the third quarter rose 4.2 percent on a like-for-like basis.

Sales, excluding fuel in the 12 weeks ending Dec. 30, were up 5 percent, the company said in a trading update.

The company said it was the eighth consecutive quarter of higher like-for-like sales, although the third-quarter results were down from 7.1 percent in the first quarter and 6.5 percent in the second quarter.

CEO Justin King said he was comfortable with the market consensus forecast of a full-year, annual underlying profit of around 360 million pounds (Ђ537.5 million, US$697.4 million).

That pretax figure, based on continuing operations, would represent a gain of 35 percent over the previous year.

Sainsbury shares were down 1.57 percent at 408 pence (Ђ6.09, US$7.90) in morning trading on the London Stock Exchange, reports AP.

"Whilst there are continuing pressures on margins, with the distinct possibility of this ramping up further over the first quarter of this year, like-for-like sales are comfortably ahead and Sainsbury's is continuing to benefit from a high profile TV advertising campaign," commented Richard Hunter, head of U.K. Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers.

"In the absence of any upgrades resulting from today's statement, and with the shares having posted a 24 percent gain over the last six months alone, the current market view tends towards a sell," Hunter said.

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