Blue Square Israel trounced analysts' expectations with second-quarter profits of NIS 38 million, and smaller slide in sales than predicted.

The retail chain's net was 20% below the parallel quarter of last year, when it earned NIS 47.8 million. But analysts had expected far worse.

Arch-rival Supersol had reported a 48% dive in net profit, and a 58% slump in operating profit, leading the market to expect much the same or worse from Blue Square.

But Blue Square's operating profit was NIS 50 million, down 44% from the parallel quarter. Sales were NIS 1.38 billion, 9% down from the same quarter of 2001, when it brought in NIS 1.4 billion sales..

Same-store sales dropped 13.6% compared with the parallel quarter.

Supersol, which had aggressively opened new branches during the first half of 2002, reported a second-quarter 3% slide in total sales and a 9.6% drop in same-store sales.

Leader & Co analyst Ori Hershkovitz had expected Blue Square to report a 10% slide in sales and 40% drop in operating and net profit.

Excellence analyst Gilad Shimoni had estimated that Blue Square would end the quarter in NIS 1.283 billion revenues, an operating profit of NIS 45 million to NIS 50 million, and a net profit of NIS 25 million.

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