Sainsbury's shares rose in early trading this morning (11 November) after the UK retailer booked an 18% rise in half-year profits.

The company reported underlying pre-tax profits of GBP307m (US$514.2m) - an increase of 18.5% - for the six months to 3 October.

Revenues were up 3.7% at GBP11.16bn, while like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, climbed 5.7%.

Chief executive Justin King said "the time is right" for Sainsbury's to speed up its expansion plans. In June, the company raised GBP432m to help it grow floor space by 15% by March 2011.

However, King issued a note of caution on the second half of the retailer's fiscal year. "As we enter the second half we expect the economic environment to remain challenging and market growth to slow due to reduced food price inflation," he said.

By 08:22 this morning, Sainsbury's shares had ticked 2.75% higher at 336.6p.

Click here for the full interim statement from Sainsbury's and click here for Justin King's comments on the retailer's food offering.