Japanese retailer Aeon Co <8267.T> posted a 9 percent rise in nine-month operating profit, helped by cost cuts, the merging of several separate general merchandise store chains and increased sales of higher-margin store brand goods.
Aeon, Japan's second-biggest retailer after Seven & I Holdings <3382.T>, reported on Friday an operating profit of 101.82 billion yen ($1.32 billion) for the March-November period.
For its business year to February 2012, the owner of Aeon Retail supermarkets as well as convenience stores, boutiques and shopping malls, kept its operating-profit outlook at 195-205 billion yen, in line with the average estimate of 199 billion yen in a poll of 13 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Several Japanese general retailers are poised to make record profits in the current fiscal year amid a post-quake boost in demand, increased sales of prepared meals and private-label products, as well as operating efficiency improvements.
Shares of Aeon rose 4 percent in 2011, versus a 17 percent drop in the benchmark Nikkei average <.N225>.
($1 = 77.22 yen)
(Reporting by James Topham; Editing by Matt Driskill and Joseph Radford)