Houston-based foodservice distributor Sysco Corp has posted an 11.2% increase in quarterly profit, helped by operational efficiencies and cost cuts.

The company said profit for the quarter to 29 March was US$168.4m, or 26 cents a share, compared to $151.4m, or 23 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts had been expecting, on average, earnings of 27 cents a share, reported Reuters.

Sales in the company's fiscal third quarter were up 13.8% year-on-year to $6.4bn.

Sysco, which has 147 distribution locations providing food to restaurants, hospitals, hotels and other institutions, said adverse weather conditions coupled with the start of the war in Iraq had made the operating environment very challenging.

"The third quarter was also unique due to the industry attention devoted to allegations concerning one of our competitors and the resulting distractions that it brought to the marketplace," chairman and chief executive Richard Schnieders was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Back in February, Dutch retailer Royal Ahold revealed that accounting irregularities had led to earnings at its US Foodservice unit being overstated by more than $500m.