Loblaw profit rises, REIT IPO planned for July

Wed May 1, 2013 9:25am EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Loblaw Cos Ltd (L.TO: Quote), Canada's largest food retailer, reported a 40 percent increase in first-quarter profit and said it plans to compete the initial public offering of its real estate investment trust (REIT) in early to mid-July.

The company, majority-owned by George Weston Ltd (WN.TO: Quote), also raised its quarterly dividend by 9 percent to 24 Canadian cents per share. This was the second time in six months that the company raised its dividend.

Loblaw, which also sells clothing, footwear and drugs, reiterated its outlook for 2013 despite increasing competition.

U.S. discount retailer Target Corp (TGT.N: Quote) opened its first three Canadian stores in March and plans to have more than 100 by the end of this year.

Supermarket operators such as Loblaw, Metro Inc (MRU.TO: Quote) and Empire Co Ltd's (EMPa.TO: Quote) Sobeys have come under pressure over the last two years as Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) expands its grocery business in Canada.

Loblaw's profit rose to C$171 million ($170 million), or 61 Canadian cents per basic share, in the quarter, from C$122 million, or 43 Canadian cents per basic share, a year earlier.

The latest results included a gain of 13 Canadian cents per share related to defined benefit plan amendments.

Metro, Canada's No. 3 grocer, last week reported a quarterly profit that more than tripled, but it warned of a challenging competitive environment.

Loblaw said total sales rose about 3 percent to C$7.04 billion, while sales at established locations, a key measure for retailers, rose 2.8 percent.   Continued...