CARR

Carrefour raises dividend after 2023 profit jumps

Credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN

By Dominique Vidalon and Helen Reid

PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Carrefour CARR.PA, Europe's largest retailer, said on Tuesday it was confident about 2024 as it posted record cash flow of 1.62 billion euros last year and operating profit rose 18.5% in the core French market amid high inflation.

The solid results and strong cash generation allowed Carrefour to hand investors a 55% dividend increase to 0.87 euros per share and launch a new share buyback scheme worth 700 million euros.

"In 2024, the group should see a more favourable market environment in Europe with the ongoing recovery of consumers' purchasing power," Finance Chief Matthieu Malige told reporters, adding Carrefour plans to keep cutting prices this year in France to be more competitive.

In the closely-watched French market where Carrefour has been facing tough competition from rivals such as unlisted Leclerc, operating profit grew 18.5% to 988 million euros in 2023.

That was driven by cost cuts and increased sales of private label products, Carrefour said.

Carrefour has been lowering its prices recently in France as it seeks to compete better against market leader E. Leclerc, according to a pricing tracker produced by supermarket industry analyst Olivier Dauvers.

"We kicked off a process of reinforcing our competitiveness in France in the fourth quarter, by lowering prices on 2,000 products," said Carrefour's Chief Financial Officer Matthieu Malige, adding that the retailer would keep lowering prices this year in France and in its other markets.

In Brazil, Carrefour's second-largest market, operating profit fell 26.9%, weighed by one-off costs from the integration of Grupo BIG and losses at converted stores in the month following their reopening.

Carrefour reported 2023 group recurring operating income of 2.26 billion euros ($2.45 billion), a 9.8% rise at constant exchange rates. Sales reached 94.13 billion euros, a like-for-like rise of 10.4%.

Carrefour's revenue has been unaffected by its ongoing price dispute with U.S. soda and snacks group Pepsico PEP.O, Malige said.

"Negotiations are still not finished," Malige told reporters on a call, referring to what Carrefour described as unacceptable price increases which prompted it to pull Pepsico products from stores in France and four other countries last month.

($1 = 0.9246 euros)

Carrefour has been lowering its prices recently in France https://reut.rs/49CBf4f

Carrefour has been lowering its prices recently in France https://reut.rs/3OMTEmO

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Helen reid Editing by GV De Clercq and David Evans)

((dominique.vidalon@thomsonreuters.com; +33149495432; Reuters Messaging: dominique.vidalon.reuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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