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Blue Square announces 6.4% net profit growth to NIS 41m for Q3

Supermarket chain attributes gain to fall holidays and new stores

Rosh Ha'ayin-based Blue Square Israel (NYSE:BSI) today announced that third-quarter revenues climbed 6.4% against th eparallel to a record NIS 1.48 billion, or $339.4 million. For the parallel quarter of 2000 the company reported revenue of NIS 1.39 billion.

The supermarket chain attributed the increase to the timing of the fall holidays and the addition of new store branches.

In any case, the results Blue Square and its rival SuperSol (NYSE:SAE) posted on November 5 both show that the slowdown has not affected their performance.

Net income for the third quarter was NIS 41.1 million (US $9.4 million), or NIS 1.07 (US $0.25) per ADS, an increase of 49.4% compared with NIS 27.5 million, or NIS 0.73 per ADS, for the third quarter of 2000.Blue Square's gross profit for the quarter increased by 4.3% to NIS 397.2 million ($91.2 million) from NIS 381 million in the third quarter of 2000, resulting in a gross margin of 26.9%, compared to 27.4% in the third quarter of 2000.

Operating income for the third quarter increased by 10.3% to NIS 77.1 million (US $17.7 million) from NIS 69.9 million in the third quarter of 2000, and operating margins increased to 5.2% from 5.0% for the corresponding period in 2000.

This results primarily from the success of the company's continued efficiency efforts, it said.

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During the quarter, the Company recorded net financing income of NIS 1 million ($0.2 million) compared to net financing expenses of NIS 14.8 million in the third quarter of 2000.

Same-store sales for the quarter declined by 3.6%, while they declined 3.5% during the third quarter of 2000. The decline primarily reflects continued competition in the sector and the opening of new stores by the company and its competitors.

Ebitda for the quarter was NIS 111 million ($25.5 million), compared to NIS 102 million in the third quarter of 2000. The Ebitda margin for the third quarter of 2001 increased slightly to 7.5% from 7.3% in the comparable quarter of 2000.

Nine-month revenues for 2001 were NIS 4.25 billion ($975.7 million), an increase of 6.6% compared to NIS 3.98 billion for the first nine months of 2000.

For the third quarter, Supersol reported record revenue of NIS 1.69 billion, compared to NIS 1.57 billion in the third quarter last year, an increase of 7.7%. The increase in revenues resulted mainly from the contribution of new stores, it said.

Supersol's same-store sales decreased by 4.3% during the quarter, compared to the same period last year, mainly as a result of the opening of new stores by the company and by its competitors, and the continued slowdown of the Israeli economy. Gross margin was 26.9% for the quarter, compared to 26.5% for the same period last year.