Much improved sales figures from Sainsbury failed to impress the City this week. The retailer revealed like for like sales growth of 4.8% (excluding petrol) in its fourth quarter trading statement, compared with just 0.4% in the previous quarter. But it also announced it was pulling out of Egypt after just two years. The deal would result in an exceptional loss of £100m-£125m. It also reported like for like sales at its Shaws subsidiary in the US were up 2.5%, and that it had agreed the sale of the freehold of 22 Homebase properties for £156m. Sainsbury chief executive Sir Peter Davis said: "Last year our priorities for the group were to reverse the decline in profitability in the UK supermarkets business, to stabilise underlying group profits before tax and e-commerce, and to focus our activities around food retailing and the related activities in the UK and US. "At the end of the fourth quarter we can report real achievements in each of these areas." He pointed out that like for like sales growth for the full year was 1.7%, compared with a decline of 2.7% the previous year. However, one analyst commented: "Trading is better than the third quarter, but the fourth quarter last year was particularly unimpressive giving Sainsbury a very easy comparable. With the benefit to sales from foot and mouth disease as well, these figures don't look so good." Analysts agreed Sainsbury was right to get out of Egypt but said it had paid a high price. One explained: "It was right to leave, but with the losses it has already suffered in Egypt, on top of this £100m to £125m, it has taken a huge hit. This is in stark contrast to Tesco which is doing very well with its overseas business." {{NEWS }}