November 2, 2009 / 2:17 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Sysco Q1 profit up; sales hit by food cost deflation

* Q1 EPS $0.46 vs est $0.45

* Q1 sales fall 8 pct to $9.1 bln

Nov 2 (Reuters) - Food distributor Sysco Corp (SYY.N) posted an 18 percent rise in quarterly profit, edging past market estimates, on lower expenses, but its sales fell for the fourth consecutive quarter as it was hurt by food cost deflation.

Food cost deflation hurts the company, which distributes food products and services to restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools and colleges, as its ability to raise prices is constrained by tough competition.

For the first quarter ended Sept. 26, the company posted net income of $326.2 million, or 55 cents a share, compared with $276.8 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding items, it earned 46 cents a share, compared with analysts’ average estimate of 45 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales fell 8 percent to $9.08 billion.

Sysco has been cutting costs, by reducing headcount, bonuses and commissions, to offset weak demand.

However, Chief Executive Bill DeLaney said the company had been seeing stabilization in volume trends in recent weeks.

Shares of the Houston-based company closed at $26.45 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Mihir Dalal in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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