Results from Shoprite Holdings lagged consensus as the South African grocer reported its slowest annual profit growth in 15 years on Tuesday, setting up its shares for their biggest daily percentage decline in more than eight years.
Retailers in Africa's most advanced economy are among the worst performing stocks in recent months, reflecting investors' fears about the impact on consumer spending of tepid economic growth, rising fuel prices and high household debt.
Shoprite, Africa's biggest retailer, reported a 3.3 percent rise in full-year headline earnings per share to 6.97 rand, well below a 7.29 rand estimate in a Reuters poll of 16 analysts.
Headline EPS, the most widely watched profit gauge in South Africa, strips out certain one-off items.
Shares in Shoprite tumbled as much 7.55 percent shortly after the announcement. By 0750 GMT, the stock was down 6.28 percent at 143.99 rand, on course for its biggest daily percentage decline since June 2006.
Sales increased 10.5 percent to 102.2 billion rand ($9.6 billion) thanks to 125 new stores and a robust showing by its chains outside the home market.
The Cape Town-based company, which also runs stores in several other African countries such as Nigeria,Angola and Zambia, said outlets outside South Africa delivered a 27 percent rise in sales - about three times the growth rate at home.
Shoprite, which targets lower-income consumers with discounts on staples such as maize meal and potatoes, has been pushing into the rest of Africa - whose nascent but fast-growing middle class is boosting demand.
But it faces challenges in key markets such as Zambia and Nigeria, due to heavy regulation, poor supply chain infrastructure and a lack of shopping malls.