Japan's Seven & i Holdings, the world's largest convenience store operator, has reported a nearly 20% fall in first-quarter operating profit.
Profit fell to 81.99 billion yen (€530 million) for the three months ended 31 May, from 102.37 billion yen (€660 million) in same period a year earlier.
The company, which owns the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores worldwide, maintained its full-year profit forecast at 513 billion yen (€3.3 billion) for the year ending February 2024, compared with an average estimate of 511.1 billion yen (€3.3 billion), based on a Refinitiv poll of 16 analysts.
Seven & i said its May-quarter profit fell due to a rebound from historically high fuel profits at its Speedway gas station business in the United States, which it acquired in 2021. The company had booked record profits in the year ended February 2023.
However, activist investors have called for an overhaul of its conglomerate structure, which, they argue, has depressed its share price.
Proposed Spin-Off Of 7-Eleven Chain
Investment fund ValueAct Capital, which bought a 4.4% stake in Seven & i in 2021, proposed a spin-off of the 7-Eleven chain in January and later recommended the replacement of four directors, including president Ryuichi Isaka.
Seven & i's management has resisted these calls until now.
Mio Kato, the founder of LightStream Research, said it is very difficult for activists to force change before management is ready and that Seven & i has steadily improved its governance and efficiency.
"It doesn't mean that there's no change, just that the pace of change is different," he said.
Seven & i shares have gained 64% since the start of 2021 but have lagged the benchmark Nikkei 225 in 2023, rising 9.1% compared with the index's 22.4% climb.