Seven & I First-Half Profit Grows 43 Percent

TOKYO -- Seven & I Holdings Co., parent of 7-Eleven convenience stores, boosted first-half profit 43 percent after its founding family donated 7 billion yen ($85 million) to the company and one-time charges fell, according to

Meanwhile, as speculation grew about the company's U.S. convenience-store chain unit's talks to acquire Casey's General Stores Inc., COO Noritoshi Murata told reporters the outcome may not be known for "a while."

Casey's has more than 1,500 outlets throughout the U.S. Midwest. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. dropped its $38.50-a-share bid for Casey's after 7-Eleven offered $40 a share.

Seven & I's net income rose to 62.43 billion yen ($757.2 million) in the six months ended August from 43.69 billion yen ($530 million) a year earlier.

The cash donated by the Ito family to Japan's biggest retailer will be used to build a training center, Nobuyuki Miyaji, a company spokesman, said at a briefing in Tokyo this week. Seven & I also joins smaller rival Aeon Co. in reporting earnings that were boosted by Japan's hottest summer in more than 100 years.

Seven & I had one-time charges, including losses from asset sales, of 12.7 billion yen ($154 million) in the first half, compared with 17.7 billion yen($214.7 million) a year earlier, it said in the statement. The Tokyo-based retailer is forecasting its first profit increase in four years as it closes unprofitable stores and sells more of its own brand of groceries and clothes, Bloomberg reported.

Revenue increased 0.5 percent to 2.56 trillion yen ($31.05 billion) in the first half. Japan's hottest summer on record helped boost profits at Seven & I's convenience stores, Murata told reporters in Tokyo. The company's Seven-Eleven Japan unit boosted operating profit 4 percent in the six-month period.

The company reiterated its full-year profit forecast of 100 billion yen ($1.21 billion) for the period ending February 2011, more than double the net income earned last year.

Seven & I, which generates 70 percent of revenue in Japan, cut its full-year sales forecast 1.2 percent. Japan's retail sales climbed 4.3 percent in August, less than economists had forecast, government data released Sept. 30 showed. Wages in Japan also stagnated in August, failing to rise for the first time in six months, the government said.

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