Australia's largest supermarket group Woolworths has posted a better-than-expected 24% increase in net profit to A$295.5m (US$153.7m) for its first half, ended 6 January. Taking out the one-off income security payment of A$24m, net profits rose 19.7% year on year to A$317m, while earnings per share jumped 27.4% to 28.5c. Overall H1 sales were A$12.75bn, a rise of 13% and company chairman James Strong described the H1 result as "a strong performance in a very competitive environment".