Australian supermarket retailer Coles Myer has posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales, helped by strong discount-store sales.

Sales for the fourth quarter of 2002/03 rose 7.4%, compared with forecasts of 6%, as strong sales at the company’s Target and Kmart chains offset weaker sales at its established food and liquor stores, reported Reuters.

Coles Myer raised its full-year profit forecast to a 26% rise in net profit to around A$445m (US$292.3m), compared to a previous forecast of 23% growth to $435m. Analyst polled by Reuters Research had forecast, on average, profit of $426m.

Sales for the fourth quarter rose to $6.7bn, compared to $6.2bn a year earlier. Full-year sales were $27bn, a rise of 6.1%.

Fourth-quarter like-for-like sales climbed 3.2%.

Total food and alcohol sales for the quarter rose 6.3% to $4.1bn, accounting for around 60% of group sales. On a like-for-like basis, food and alcohol sales were up 2.1% for the quarter and 1.5% for the year.