* Operating profit for March-Nov period gains 5.6 percent y/y
* Japan’s consumer prices fall for nine straight months
* Aeon reiterates profit forecast for year to February (Adds third-quarter profit, details)
TOKYO, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Aeon Co posted a 51 percent jump in its third-quarter operating profit as brisk business at supermarkets, drug stores and discount outlets helped the biggest retailer by sales in Japan offset losses at its general merchandise stores.
Operating profit for quarter ended Nov. 30 was 13 billion yen ($112.14 million), versus 8.6 billion yen a year ago, calculations based on the retailer’s nine-month results show.
For March-November, Aeon reported a 5.6 percent rise in its operating profit to 85.4 billion yen.
Aeon reiterated its operating profit forecast for the year ending Feb. 28 at 190 billion yen. Nine analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast an average operating profit of 185 billion yen for the twelve months.
Aeon’s improved performance comes amid persistent weak consumer spending that is hurting smaller retailers less able to revamp operations to respond to shifts in shopping trends.
Japan’s core consumer prices marked a ninth straight month of annual declines and household spending slumped in November. Core prices in Tokyo, a leading indicator of nationwide price trends, fell at the fastest pace in nearly four years.
$1 = 115.9300 yen Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Himani Sarkar