US supermarket operator Winn-Dixie has posted a 14% hike in fiscal Q3 net profits despite a reduction in sales.

Net income came in at U$50.6m, or 36 cents a share for the fiscal third quarter ended in April, compared with net income of $44.3m, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier.

The group attributed the improvement to a cutback in labour costs and increased operating efficiency.

Revenue fell 2.7% to $2.82 billion from $2.9 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales, which represent sales at stores open at least a year, fell 2% for the quarter, the company said. The timing of Easter, as well as "economic uncertainty and aggressive pricing and promotion by our competitors" was blamed for the shortfall in sales.

Looking ahead to the fiscal fourth quarter, Winn-Dixie said it expects to post earnings between 35 cents and 39 cents a share. Analysts are looking for earnings of 39 cents a share, according to Dow Jones.