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CORRECT: Kathmandu lifts 1H profit by as much as 75%

CORRECT: Kathmandu lifts 1H profit by as much as 75 percent on Australian sales growth

(Fixes number of stores to be opened in second half in 8th graph. Updates share price in 1st and 4th graphs.)

Feb. 1 (BusinessDesk) - Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment retail chain, boosted first-half profit by as much as 75 percent on the strength of sales across the Tasman. The shares climbed to a 13-month high.

Net profit was between $9.5 million and $10.5 million in the six months ended Jan. 27, compared to $6 million a year earlier, the retailer said in a statement. That came from a 13 percent increase in sales to $165.8 million, and was in line with management's expectations, it said.

"Our sales in Australia have continued to grow at a faster rate than New Zealand, which reflects the continuing strengthening of the Kathmandu brand and market penetration in Australia," chief executive Peter Halkett said.

The shares rose 4.1 percent to $2.30, leading gainers on the top 50 index. The stock is rated an average 'outperform' based on 10 analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $1.855.

The company didn’t provide annual guidance, saying 60 percent of sales and at least 70 percent of earnings will come in the second half of the year. It has previously said it expected to beat its 2012 result.

"Given this trading pattern and the volatile nature of the retail trading environment, we remain cautious about our full-year result," Halkett said.

Kathmandu boosted first-quarter revenue almost 20 percent, indicating the pace of sales growth slowed in the second three-month period, which encompassed the Christmas trading period.

The retailer opened nine stores in the current financial year and expected to open a further six in the second half.

The first-half result will be released on March 26.


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