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LISBON, May 18 (Reuters) - Portugal's largest retailer, Sonae SGPS, posted on Wednesday a 6 percent increase in first-quarter sales and its profitability improved even as net profit fell a steep 72 percent after one-off capital gains a year ago.
While net profit slumped to just 8 million euros, it was still higher than 4 million expected on average by analysts. A year ago, Sonae had extraordinary gains from sale and lease back operations of its commercial property.
The conglomerate that operates Continente hypermarkets, consumer electronics stores Worten and SportZone outlets of sporting goods, among other brands, said that total sales rose 6 percent in the quarter to nearly 1.28 billion euros, slightly exceeding analysts forecast of 1.26 billion euros in sales.
It reported growth in sales of all its business areas.
Sonae's overall earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell about 48 percent in the quarter, but underlying EBITDA rose 13 percent and the underlying EBITDA margin, which measures operating profitability mainly in retail, rose to 3.8 percent from 3.6 percent. (Reporting By Andrei Khalip)