An unexpected dip in second quarter like for like sales has been shrugged off by Sainsbury. But the company's share price ­ which has soared since Sir Peter Davis took over as CEO ­ slid 3514p to 396p on the news. Like for like sales growth was running at 2.4% in the six months to October 14. This was slightly better than had been expected, and a dramatic improvement on last year's negative figures. But when adjusted to take account of Easter, like for likes slipped from 2.2% in the first quarter to 1.8% in the second. Sir Peter blamed the downturn on refurbishment activity in a number of important stores and the removal of "inappropriate" non food. The fuel blockades and recent floods are also being blamed. Including new space, the supermarket sales were up 5% at £7.27bn during the period. Operating profit for the supermarkets business fell 23% to £255.5m. Operating margins were also down: from 4.1% to 3.5%, way behind those achieved by Tesco. But Sir Peter said: "These results are very much in line with our expectations as we move through the first stages of our three year transformation. We are on track to a turnaround in profitability." And Sir Peter claimed shoppers were getting the message that Sainsbury was focusing on quality and range. Group sales (which include Homebase and Shaw's in the US) were up 7.7% at £9.8bn and underlying profit was down 17% at £300m. The figures were bang in line with City expectations. But analysts said they also demonstrated Sainsbury still had a mountain to climb. {{NEWS }}