Bookseller and stationer WHSmith has revealed better than expected third-quarter sales.

Group like-for-likes fell 4 per cent and total sales nudged up 1 per cent in the 13 weeks to May 30.

Like-for-like store sales at the high street business fell 5 per cent and slipped 2 per cent at the travel arm. WHSmith said that although airport passenger numbers have remained soft it has “outperformed”.

The retailer said its balance sheet “remains strong” and it continues to generate “high levels of cash” from its operations.

“The economic environment remains uncertain and, while we continue to be cautious about consumer spending, we are confident in the outcome for the full year,” WHSmith said.

Citi analyst Ben Spruntulis said: “WHSmith shares still look good value. On the back of these results we do not expect consensus forecasts to change. We have a January 2009 profit before tax forecast of £80m.”

Spruntulis retained his medium-risk buy stance on the retailer because of its “defensive formats, a best in class management team and high forecast visibility”.