Weaker-Than-Expected Revenue Hits Carrefour Shares

Carrefour shares fell sharply Friday as investors reacted with disappointment to weaker-than-expected quarterly revenue figures from the world's second-largest retailer.

Shares of Carrefour fell as much as 4.9 % to 44.45 euros ($57.71) in Paris - their lowest level since June last year.

Carrefour reported fourth-quarter revenue of 23.53 billion euros ($30.55 billion) late Thursday, a decline of 1.5 % on the year-earlier period, excluding businesses and retail spaces added or sold during the year. The company blamed negative currency effects and calendar differences for the slide.

JP Morgan and Paris-based brokerage Fideuram Wargny both cut their ratings and target prices on the stock Friday.

"The company seems to only blame external factors but we think an anniversary promotion lacking innovation, lack of response to competitive pricing and its own non-food weaknesses should also be highlighted," JP Morgan said in a note to investors.

In Europe, which accounts for over 85 % of Carrefour's business, sales fell 2.2 % on the same like-for-like basis. The overall revenue figure also fell short of the 24.1 billion euros ($31.3 billion) predicted by analysts in a Dow Jones Newswires poll.

Carrefour's full-year 2006 revenue came in at 87.42 billion euros ($113.5 billion), 4.4 % above the 83.71 billion euros reported for 2005.