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Morrisons 'unlikely' to hit profit forecasts for this year

Morrisons will unveil an expansion of its fledgling convenience stores and online non-food lines on Thursday when it posts a rise in full-year underlying profits.

But analysts doubt the UK's fourth-biggest grocer will be able to hit City profit forecasts for this year, reflecting the tough supermarket trading conditions and the recent slowdown in Morrisons' sales.

Dalton Philips, the retailer's chief executive, is likely to strike a cautionary tone on plans to introduce online food delivery, though he will update on the performance of Kiddicare, a £70m purchase last year.

Morrisons, which has 472 stores, is forecast to grow its underlying profits by 6 per cent to £922m for the year to 30 January. But analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said conditions will make it "difficult" for Morrisons to hit forecasts of pre-tax profits of £970m in 2012-13.