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Sports Direct profits climb

SPORTS Direct, the sports retailer founded by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, yesterday upped its profit forecast for the year as it revealed encouraging trading figures for the summer period.<br /><br />The group, which owns the Sports World and Lillywhites chains, said gross profit for the 13 weeks to 26 July increased to &pound;157m from &pound;150m in the same period in 2008, while revenues soared 10 per cent to &pound;375m.<br /><br />Sports Direct said it expects underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) to reach &ldquo;at least &pound;150m&rdquo; over the full year to April 2010, at current exchange rates.<br /><br />The firm, which made &pound;137m last year, originally predicted a figure of &pound;140m at the time of its annual results presentation in July.<br /><br />It added: &ldquo;Trading has continued to be ahead of last year and we are very comfortable with our expectation of reducing net debt to below &pound;400m.&rdquo;<br /><br />Sports Direct did not reveal like-for-like sales figures, though analysts were optimistic about estimated figures.<br /><br />&ldquo;Like-for-like sales through the period must have approached, or even tipped into, double digit territory,&rdquo; said Numis Securities analysts.