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May 15, 2002

ISRAEL: Super-Sol reveals 32.3% increase in net income for the Q1

Rishon-LeZion-based supermarket giant Super-Sol has posted a 10.9% increase in sales to NIS 1.71bn (US$0.35bn) during its Q1 ended 31 March 2002, year on year. Same store sales increased 3.3% during the same period. The company explained that the increase in revenues resulted mainly from the contribution of new stores, as well as the timing of the Passover holiday which began on 27 March this year, therefore all of the holiday sales were included in the results for the Q1. Last year, the Passover holiday began on 7 April, therefore part of the last year's holiday sales were included in the Q1 results and the rest were included in the Q2 results.

Rishon-LeZion-based supermarket giant Super-Sol has posted a 10.9% increase in sales to NIS 1.71bn (US$0.35bn) during its Q1 ended 31 March 2002, year on year.

Same store sales increased 3.3% during the same period. The company explained that the increase in revenues resulted mainly from the contribution of new stores, as well as the timing of the Passover holiday which began on 27 March this year, therefore all of the holiday sales were included in the results for the Q1. Last year, the Passover holiday began on 7 April, therefore part of the last year’s holiday sales were included in the Q1 results and the rest were included in the Q2 results.

Gross profit was NIS 451m for the Q1, an increase of 7.5% compared to NIS 419m for the Q1 last year. Gross margin was 26.7% for the quarter, down from 27.6% year on year. The financial results for the Q1 of the year reflect an increase of 2.4% in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), while the results for last year’s Q1 reflect a decrease of 0.5%. The difference of 2.9% resulted in a decrease of NIS 11m in gross profit and operating profit for the quarter, year on year, due to the inflationary adjustment.

Q1 operating profit was NIS 76m compared to NIS 76m year on year. The operating margin was 4.4% compared to 4.9% for the same quarter last year.

Financing income, net during the Q1 2002 was NIS 3m, compared to NIS 10m during the same quarter last year. Financing income was mainly due to the increase of 2.4% in the CPI during the quarter, which resulted in financing income of 12m Shekels from the erosion of the excess of unlinked monetary liabilities over unlinked monetary assets, net. Last year, the decrease in the CPI resulted in financing expenses of NIS 3m due to the appreciation of the excess of unlinked monetary liabilities, net.

During the Q1 2002, Super Sol recorded other income of NIS 24m, mainly from capital gains on the sale of its holdings in Avnat. During the Q1 2001, it did not sell any assets and therefore had no capital gains.

The company’s tax expense for the Q1 2002 was NIS 40m, up 64.1% compared to NIS 25m for the same quarter last year. The effective tax rate was 38.9%, compared to 36.8% in 2001, due to the taxes in respect of the sale of the holdings in Avnat. The company’s equity in losses of affiliated company for the quarter include an impairment loss of NIS 8m in respect of the company’s investment.

Net profit for the Q1 amounted to NIS 55m, an increase of 32.3% compared to NIS 41m for the same quarter last year. Excluding the effect of capital gains, impairment loss and related taxes, the company’s net profit increased 21.6% compared to the same quarter last year.

Fully-diluted earnings per share for the Q1 were NIS 0.28 per share (or 1.38 Shekels per ADR), up 35.5% from 2001. Excluding the effect of capital gains, impairment loss and related taxes, the company’s earnings per share increased 25.0% year on year.

Super-Sol’s CEO, Amiaz Sagis said: “We are very pleased. During the Q1 of the year, the company opened four new stores, with a total floor space of 9,800m², in the Cosmos, Food Warehouses and Hyper-Netto formats. The company closed one store in the Birkat Rachel format, and intends to open about eight new stores during the next three quarters of the year within our dynamic growth programme.

Sagis continued, “I am pleased to report that the company met its targets for self- distribution and sales of private label branded products during the Q1. Self- distribution through the company’s logistics center was 57% during the Q1, compared to 53% during the Q1 last year, and sales of private label branded products rose to 8.2% of sales at the end of the quarter, compared to 5.3% at the end of the Q1 last year.”

“In response to customer demand and in order to improve the value proposition for our customers, during the Q1 2002 the company converted three stores from the Hyper-Netto format to the Machsanei Mazon – Food Warehouses format. This format offers our customers dry groceries as well as a wide variety of fresh produce at deep discount prices.”

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