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Metcash Jumps Most Since 2009 as Profit Doubles: Sydney Mover

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June 24 (Bloomberg) -- Metcash Ltd., Australia’s largest grocery wholesaler, jumped the most in more than four years in Sydney trading after full-year earnings more than doubled.

The stock closed 4.9 percent higher at A$3.61, the biggest rise since Jan. 27, 2009. Net income in the year ended April 30 surged to A$206 million ($189 million) from A$90 million a year earlier, Metcash said in a statement today.

Liquor sales jumped 25 percent while revenue at the hardware and automotive business rose 13 percent, Sydney-based Metcash said. Earnings met targets even amid falling prices and competition between Australia’s two largest supermarket chains, Woolworths Ltd. and Wesfarmers Ltd.-owned Coles.

“It is a challenging time for the independent retail sector with consumer confidence low and the self-service supermarket chains locked in a marketing war,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Reitzer said in the statement. “We are pleased to announce a full-year result that meets our guidance amid tough trading conditions.”

Food and grocery sales fell 2.3 percent to A$9.1 billion due largely to store closures, the company said. Reitzer steps down June 30 and will be replaced by Ian Morrice.

Metcash plans to pay a final dividend of 16.5 Australian cents a share, taking the full-year payout to 28 cents. That matches last year’s total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Rabil at srabil@bloomberg.net

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