NEW YORK — Carrefour SA’s second-quarter revenue increase beat analysts’ estimates, but lower sales in France forced Europe’s largest retailer to cut its full-year sales growth forecast.

This story first appeared in the July 9, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For the three months ended June 30, the Paris-based giant said total sales grew 3.5 percent to 19.78 billion euros, from 19.15 billion euros a year ago. Excluding currency fluctuations, sales would have grown by a slightly more robust 4.4 percent, said Carrefour in a statement.

In dollars, net sales were $23.84 billion versus $21.76 billion last year. Figures have been converted at average exchange rates for the corresponding periods.

Although second-quarter sales exceeded the consensus estimate of 19.75 billion euros, fractional sales declines in France in both the quarter and the first half of the fiscal year led Carrefour to revise its guidance.

“The performance of our French hypermarkets in the first half means that a 6 percent increase in full-year group sales growth [in] constant currency is now unlikely,” the company said in a statement. “We are now forecasting an increase in group sales of around 5 percent, excluding currency.”

Carrefour said it still anticipates double-digit earnings-per-share growth for the year.

Sales in France dipped 0.2 percent in the quarter and 0.6 percent for the six months. Moreover, comparable-store sales fell 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent in the quarter and half, respectively. Carrefour said it slashed prices in order to boost comps, but has so far failed to see the increase in transaction volume needed to compensate for the lower prices, which caused the revenue shortfall.

By region, the global powerhouse — second only in size to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — boasted 18.6 percent sales growth in Asia and a 1.9 percent gain in comps. Sales in Latin America increased 4.9 percent and comps advanced 7.5 percent, while in Europe excluding France, revenues improved 6 percent on a 2.6 percent rise in same-store sales.

For the first half of the fiscal year, Carrefour said total revenue increased 3.3 percent to 38.62 billion euros, or $47.38 billion, from 37.45 billion euros, or $41.37 billion, a year ago. Excluding currency fluctuations, sales would have increased 4.4 percent.

— Dan Burrows