Woolworths will return to profit in the first half of its 2019 financial year following the loss caused by its R7bn impairment of Australian department store chain David Jones in the matching period. The retailer said in a sales update for the 20 weeks to November 11 that it expected its interim earnings per share (EPS) to recover from the 505.9c loss it reported for the first half of its 2018 financial year. Woolworths said in Thursday’s sales update that it would issue a trading statement for the 26 weeks to December 23, giving more precise guidance on its interim earnings once it obtains reasonable certainty. The group’s overall sales in the first 20 weeks of its 2019 financial year grew 2.7% from the matching period, a slight improvement on the 2.6% growth it reported in its sales update a year ago. Measured in “constant currency” — keeping the contributions from Australian subsidiaries David Jones and Country Road in Australian dollars rather than converting to rand — sales gre...

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