Harvey Norman Sees First-Half Profit Rise

Australian electrical goods and furniture retailer Harvey Norman Holdings forecast a 25-35 percent rise in first-half net profit on Wednesday, sending its shares up 6 percent.

Harvey Norman, which has about 190 franchised stores around Australia, also said its total first-quarter sales rose 11.6 percent, with like-for-like sales, which exclude new store openings, up 5.7 percent.

Total sales for the quarter from its operations in Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and Ireland totaled A$1.39 billion (US$1.27 billion).

Harvey Norman said it was aware of analysts' reports forecasting a rise in full-year net profit for 2007/08 of 12-28 percent.

The company said it was not prepared to speculate on its full-year profit, but expected its first-half profit from continuing operations to rise 25-35 percent over the A$132.87 million posted in the six months to end-December, 2006.

Australian retailers have benefited from a buoyant economy, strong employment and tax cuts, with electronics goods such as flat-panel TVs among hot-selling items.

Harvey Norman shares traded up 5.9 percent to A$6.88 after the announcement, in an overall market down 0.3 percent.