UK supermarket group J Sainsbury has issued a clarification statement, confirming recent press speculation that its half-year profits will be below market expectations.

The company said that underlying profits before taxation for the half year ended 9 October 2004 are expected to be within a range of £125m (US$224.4m) to £135m, compared to £366m a year earlier.

Sainsbury's had come under pressure from the Financial Services Authority to make a statement ahead of its scheduled trading update after increasing analyst and press speculation.

The retailer reiterated that it is conducting a thorough business review, the conclusion of which will be announced on 19 October.

"While this review is not yet completed, the company is not in a position to give any guidance on the future expectations for the full year, but guidance will be given as part of the presentation of the business review," the company said.