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Feb 16 (Reuters) - South African retailer Woolworths Holdings reported a 4.3 percent drop in half-year profit on Thursday, citing difficult trading conditions in its home market and in Australia.
* Headline earnings per share (EPS) declined by 4.3 percent to 242.6 cents for the 26 weeks to Dec 25.
* Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.
* The firm, which sells food and clothing to well-to-do consumers mainly in South Africa and Australia, said its gross margin declined by 0.4 percent to 47.7 percent, as discounting by competitors gnawed at profits.
* "Economic and market conditions are expected to remain difficult into the second half of the financial year. The environment in both markets is expected to continue to be highly promotionally driven," the firm said.
* Comparable store costs rose by 2.4 percent, Woolworths said.
* The firm expects growth for the second half in South Africa and Australia to be in line with growth in the first half. (Reporting by TJ Strydom and Bengaluru Newsroom; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)