German retail titan Metro today [Thursday] reported a robust set of third quarter operating profits.

The world's fifth-largest retailer outstripped expectations by posting a 16.1% rise in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to €188m (US$185m). Analysts had widely forecast EBIT at €171m.

The company said it still expected to deliver its stated goal for 2002 for a 10% rise in earnings per share.

Sales in the quarter climbed 7.2% to €12.36bn, again bettering analysts' expectations. A downturn in consumer demand led it nevertheless to cut back its 2002 sales targets, which it now puts at a 5-5.5% increase, down from earlier forecasts of 5.5-6%.

The company's core cash & carry business performed most robustly, while the electronic consumer goods arms Media Markt and Saturn also saw sales rise in the period under review.

Metro has also announced the appointment of Stefan Feuerstein to its management board. For further information, click here.