Belgian retailer Delhaize has posted better-than-expected quarterly results and raised its full-year guidance for the second time.

Delhaize reported third-quarter operating profit, or earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), of €194.9m (US$223.2m), up 12.2% year-on-year. Analysts had forecast, on average, EBIT of €174m, reported Reuters.

Sales fell 7% to €4.7bn, hurt by the weak US dollar, but the company said it expects full-year sales to increase 4.0-4.5%, compared with a previous forecast of 2-3.5% growth.

Delhaize, which carries out the majority of its operations in the US, said same-store sales at Delhaize America edged up 1% in the third-quarter. The company forecast same-store sales at its US operations to be flat to slightly positive this year.

The retailer said it expects 2003 earnings before goodwill and exceptionals to increase 25-30%, compared to a previous forecast of 15-20% growth at constant currencies.

Delhaize also forecast 2003 net earnings to be 0-10% higher, compared to its previous guidance of flat to 13% down.