May 3, 2012 / 11:15 AM / 5 years ago

Canada's Jean Coutu posts higher profit, ups dividend

(Reuters) - Canadian pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group's (PJCa.TO) quarterly profit rose by a third, helped by sales from its new franchised stores, prompting it to raise its quarterly dividend.

Legislation in Ontario and other provinces has brought down the price of generic prescription drugs in the past few years, putting pressure on Jean Coutu and its competitors, such as Shoppers Drug Mart Corp SC.TO.

The company raised its quarterly dividend by 16.7 percent to 7 Canadian cents per share.

Overall sales at established stores in Jean Coutu's network rose 4.2 percent, while pharmacy sales increased 4.4 percent, the company said in a statement.

The company, which operates nearly 400 franchised stores in the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, opened 6 new franchised stores during the quarter.

Fourth-quarter net profit rose 33.3 percent to C$62 million ($62.69 million), or 28 Canadian cents per share.

Revenue rose 11.7 percent to C$737.2 million.

Analysts, on an average, were expecting the company to earn 24 Canadian cents per share, on revenue of C$680 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the company, which have risen 10 percent over the past six months, closed at C$14.20 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1 = 0.9890 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Roshni Menon

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