J. Sainsbury Significantly Outperforms the Market

LONDON -- Sainsbury's  (LSE: SBRY  ) released its preliminary results for the year to March 16, 2013 this morning, and reported good sales and profit growth, with "significant market outperformance."

Underlying pre-tax profit grew 6.2%, to 756 million pounds, on total sales that had increased 4.6% to 25,632 million pounds, with total like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) up 1.8%. Basic earnings per share was up 9.3% to 30.7 pence, and the board has proposed raising the full-year dividend by 3.7%, bringing it to 16.7 pence, making Sainsbury's yield around 4.2%.

Sainsbury has now recorded 33 consecutive quarters -- over eight years -- of like-for-like sales growth, and states that its market share is at the highest level for a decade, having increasing to 16.8% over the past year. Whilst it's still a long way behind the U.K.'s No. 1 supermarket, Tesco, which still commands a little more than 30%, Sainsbury's now seems well placed to eventually reclaim the No. 2  spot from Asda, which is only just ahead at around 17.5%.

The company also confirmed that it is to assume full control of Sainsbury's Bank, buying the 50% owned currently by Lloyds Banking Group for 248 million pounds. The company said that taking full ownership of the bank -- which saw a 38% rise in pre-tax profit and an 8% increase in active accounts over the year -- will "enable its full potential to be realized."

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Justin King said:

Our focus on helping our customers Live Well For Lessis delivering good growth in sales and profit. Our key points of difference, such as the best quality own-brand, Nectar, Brand Match, coupon-at-till and industry leading service, are recognized by our customers.

Our decision to take full ownership of Sainsbury's Bank will add further momentum to our strategy of developing complementary channels for the benefit of both customers and shareholders.

Whilst we see no near term change in the current economic situation, we remain confident that by continuing to invest in our long-standing strategy and by understanding and helping our customers, we are well positioned for future growth.

Despite the good results, Sainsbury's share price is currently more than 2.5% down so far this morning, but remains more than 30% up on this time last year.

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