SYDNEY, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Australia's No. 1 supermarket operator by sales, Woolworths Ltd, said half-yearly underlying profit fell 16.7 percent as a bitter price war forced it to slash prices.
Underlying net profit was A$785.7 million ($603 million) for the six months to January. On a statutory basis, the company swung to an interim net profit of A$725.3 million after writedowns on its home improvement unit led to a A$973 million loss the previous first half.
Sales rose 2.6 percent. ($1 = 1.3029 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)