Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO) claims its strongest rate of growth for three years.
The shares of Tesco (LSE: TSCO) (NASDAQOTH: TSCDY.US) rallied 10p, or 3%, to 359p during early London trade this morning after the supermarket said its total sales had increased by 3.8% during the Christmas period.
Philip Clarke, Tesco's chief executive, claimed the group had "performed broadly in-line" with his expectations during the six weeks to 5 January, with the chain's progress being supported by a "much stronger food performance" and the its best-ever week for online sales.
In the UK, Tesco's like-for-like festive sales advanced by 1.8%, which the FTSE 100 member claimed was its "strongest rate of growth for three years".
However, the overall like-for-like performance for the third quarter was minus 0.6%, which contrasted with the positive 1.5% recorded yesterday by rival J Sainsbury.
Mr Clarke added:
"We are just nine months into the implementation of our six-part plan, which is about Building a Better Tesco in the UK for the long-term. Whilst our seasonal performance is encouraging, there is a lot more to do and the team is focused on delivering further improvements for customers in 2013."
Tesco's international division reported total third-quarter sales growth of 3.4%, although the like-for-like number was minus 2%. Total sales climbed 8% within Asia, but fell a fraction in Europe.
Prior to today, City experts were expecting current-year earnings to fall from 37p to about 31p per share and the dividend to remain at 14.8p per share. Those projections presently place the shares on a P/E of 11.5 and yield of 4.1%.
Of course, whether today's Christmas update, that share-price valuation and the general outlook for the supermarket sector combine to make Tesco a 'buy' remains your decision.
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> Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares in Tesco.