(Reuters) - Canadian pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc (PJCa.TO) reported higher quarterly sales, helped by demand for its high-margin generic drugs and the expansion of its network of franchised stores.
Jean Coutu has been adding smaller-sized stores in smaller markets where it has seen a rise in prescription drugs sales.
Gross sales of Jean Coutu's Pro Doc drugs rose to C$48.3 million in the quarter from C$45.7 million a year earlier. Jean Coutu sells its own generic drugs mainly in Quebec, its biggest market.
Jean Coutu has faced a ban on sales of private-label generic drugs to control prescription costs in regions like Ontario. The Longueuil, Quebec-based company's revenue rose 1 percent to C$688.6 million.
The company's same-store sales rose 0.1 percent in the quarter, compared with a 0.6 percent rise a year earlier.
Net profit halved to C$54.1 million ($50.64 million), or 29 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended May 31, from C$108.6 million, or 51 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
The company had reported a gain of C$54.4 million related to the investment in Rite Aid a year earlier.
Jean Coutu shares closed down 0.67 percent at C$22.20 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. The company's stock has risen more than 28.5 percent in the 12 months to Monday's close, outperforming the TSX-Toronto Stock Exchange 300 Composite Index .GSPTSE 25 percent increase.
($1 = 1.0684 Canadian Dollars)
Reporting By Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore