By  on June 30, 2008

PARIS — Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc., saw its stock fall by more than 7 percent Friday after it cut its forecast for operating profit.

The hypermarket operator said after the market closed on Thursday that operating profits would grow at about the same rate as sales if the trading environment did not deteriorate. Carrefour's shares closed down 7.84 percent to 34.91 euros, or $55.14 at current exchange, on the Paris Bourse.

Carrefour had previously promised that earnings would outpace revenues.

The earnings revision was couched in a statement that seemed designed to reassure investors after Carrefour's stock on Thursday slid 8.8 percent — the most in more than five years — after the company said it would rebrand its Champion supermarkets with the Carrefour Market brand.

Investors were disappointed with the plan and sent the stock down more than 6 percent on Wednesday.

On Friday, Deutsche Bank cut its rating on Carrefour to "hold" from "buy." Investment banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Merrill Lynch, also have lowered their earnings estimates for the French retailer.

Carrefour said the company was "confident that we will grow sales including [value added tax] and on constant exchange rates in line with last year's growth (7 percent) and grow [operating profit] significantly, at about the same rate as sales."

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, along with Colony Capital, have the largest single shareholding in Carrefour.

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