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Woolworths Rallies as Annual Sales Climb: Johannesburg Mover

Woolworths Holdings Ltd., a South African food and clothing retailer, gained the most in a week after reporting an acceleration in full-year sales.

The shares advanced as much as 2.6 percent, the most on an intraday basis since July 11, and traded 1.5 percent higher at 65.90 rand as of 10:47 a.m. in Johannesburg. About 3 million shares traded, or 82 percent of the three-month daily average.

Sales rose 23 percent for the 53 weeks through June, the Cape Town-based retailer said in a statement today, compared with 12 percent growth in the previous fiscal year. That beat analyst expectations for a 20 percent increase to 34.6 billion rand ($3.5 billion), according to the mean estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Woolworths expects to report earnings per share 23 percent to 28 percent higher than the previous year, the company said. It will announce more detailed earnings on or about Aug. 29.

Woolworths’s gain bucked a trend of slowing sales growth among South African retailers. Shoprite total sales increased 10.4 percent in the six months through June, compared with 13.8 percent in the previous half-year period. Massmart Holdings Ltd., the South African retailer controlled by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., also said July 9 that sales growth slowed during the first half of the year amid a downturn in consumer spending.

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