Germany-based retailer Metro Group has increased its earnings forecast for 2010, expecting EBIT before special items to “tangibly exceed” the level posted in 2009.

The company today (2 November) raised its forecast to approximately EUR2.3bn, up on its previous guidance of EUR2.2bn (US$3.21bn). Metro attributed the improved forecast to contributions from its Shape 2012 efficiency programme.

Metro said it expects annual sales to exceed the previous year’s level, but to still “fall short” of its medium-term target of 6% growth per year. The retailer attributed the shortfall to macro-economic circumstances and the lower number of store openings in 2009 and 2010.

Metro posted strong third-quarter results, driven by stronger consumer consumption, improved labour markets and higher levels of disposable income.

For the quarter ended 30 September, net profit increased 52.1% to EUR190m (US$265.2), while sales grew 4.5% to EUR16.29bn.

However, Metro said that the momentum of global recovery, seen in the first half of 2010, lessened slightly. The company attributed the slowdown in momentum to expiring fiscal stimulus packages as well as measures to “consolidate” public budgets in some countries.

For Metro Group’s full earnings statement click here.