Bank Hapoalim sees Supersol's third-quarter earnings sliding 27% compared with the parallel quarter of 2001, to NIS 40 million.

Analyst Racheli Gershon estimates that the retail chain's 2002 profits will drop 16% from the prior year to NIS 174 million.

Nor does Gershon see serious improvement next year, predicting that the chain's net profit will inch up to NIS 180 million.

Bank Hapoalim reiterated a lukewarm Hold rating the Supersol and slashed its price target to NIS 13.4, from NIS 18. Its 12-month target is a mere 15% above Supersol's opening price Tuesday morning.

Gershon sees the chain reporting a 1% slide in revenues for the third quarter, to NIS 1.769 billion. She attributes the erosion to recession-hit households spending less on consumables, a trend that was palpable in the shopping for the Sukkoth holiday.

Another element eating into the retailer's results is intensifying competition.

The low gains expected by the consumer price index in the third quarter will narrow the gap between the CPI and the food index, Gershon adds, an element that will bolster sales.

Bank Hapoalim sees Supersol also benefiting from its aggressive expansion policy in the previous two quarters, while its arch-rival Blue Square lounged on its laurels and deferred expansion plans to the fourth quarter of this year.