UPDATE 1-Empire Co profit falls 6 pct on one-time charge

Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:23am EDT
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March 12 (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd, parent of Canada's No. 2 grocer Sobeys, reported a 6 percent fall in quarterly profit after taking a one-time charge related to an equity accounted investment.

Net earnings fell to C$75.2 million ($73.2 million), or C$1.11 per share, in the third quarter from C$80 million, or C$1.17 per share, a year earlier.

The company booked a one-time charge from an equity accounted investment of C$4.8 million.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned C$1.17 per share while Sobeys' contribution to adjusted earnings, excluding minority interests, rose 8 percent.

Sales rose 9 percent to C$4.34 billion. Sobeys same-store sales, a key measure for retailers, rose 1.2 percent.

Sobeys, which ranks behind Loblaw Cos Ltd's Loblaws chain, contributed almost 9 percent to sales at C$4.28 billion, up from C$3.94 billion a year earlier.

Gross margin at Sobeys fell to 22.93 percent from 24.11 percent a year earlier, the company said.

Analysts on average expected earnings of C$1.15 per share on revenue of C$4.30 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.   Continued...