Dutch retailer Ahold has booked an increase in first-half profits but its shares fell amid pressure on margins and the company’s caution over future trading.

Earnings in the six months to the end of June climbed 8.2% to EUR530m (US$665.6m), the group reported today (23 August). Ahold said the boost was a result of a EUR14m charge related to disposals in 2011 that was not repeated this year.

Operating income amounted to EUR742m, up 3.2% on last year. However, underlying operating margin was 4.3% from 4.5% in the prior year period.

Shares in Ahold were down 3.16% at EUR10.10 at 14:19 CET this afternoon.

Net sales climbed 8% to EUR17.41bn. At constant exchange rates, net sales increased by 2.8%.

“We expect market conditions to remain difficult and are cautious about the potential impact of rising food commodity costs, particularly in the United States for the balance of the year,” said Ahold CEO Dick Boer.

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By GlobalData

Click here for a round-up of what leading analysts said about Ahold’s results and click here for coverage of the retailer’s conference call, when it said it expects to see margins recover in the Netherlands.