August 21, 2019 / 6:43 PM / 3 months ago

Retailer Sonae's first-half sales up 11%, profit halves on year-ago gain

LISBON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Portugal’s largest retailer Sonae posted on Wednesday an 11% increase in first-half sales to almost 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) while its operating profitability improved, although net profit halved due to a one-off gain a year earlier.

The conglomerate, which runs 174 Continente hypermarkets and large supermarkets, Worten consumer electronics stores, Sportzone stores and other retail chains, said in a statement its underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 24% to 243 million euros.

Underlying EBITDA margin increased by almost one percentage point to 8.1%.

Still, net profit fell 53% to 38 million euros after a one-off gain from the sale of a stake in software company Outsystems in 2018. Excluding that effect, comparable net profit would have risen 24 percent, Sonae said.

“Sonae had a very positive first half, with strong growth, profitability improvements and important marks in terms of portfolio management,” Chief Executive Officer Claudia Azevedo wrote. “We remain confident that 2019 will be a very positive year for Sonae.”

Net debt fell by 131 million euros to 1.76 billion euros.

Sonae stocks had closed nearly 1 percent higher on the day before the results were released, slightly outperforming the broader market in Lisbon. ($1 = 0.9011 euros) (Reporting By Sergio Goncalves and Andrei Khalip)

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