UPDATE 1-Higher sales at Sobeys help Empire Co beat estimates

Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:42am EDT
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* Fourth-quarter earnings C$1.45/share vs est C$1.33/share

* Revenue up 6 pct to C$4.31 bln

* Same-store sales at Sobeys rises 0.6 pct

* Raises dividend by 8.3 percent to C$0.26

* Sells assets in Empire Theaters

June 27 (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd, reported a 17 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, handily beating analysts' expectations, helped by higher sales at its Sobeys grocery chain.

The company, which acquired Safeway Inc's assets in Canada for $5.7 billion earlier this month, also raised its quarterly dividend by 8.3 percent to 26 Canadian cents per share.

The deal with Safeway, if completed, will cement Empire's position as Canada's No. 2 grocer, behind Loblaw Companies Ltd , at a time when competition from U.S. retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp is heating up.

Sobeys, Empire's food retailing subsidiary, operates about 1,500 retail outlets under banners such as Lawtons Drugs, Price Chopper, FreshCo, and Thrifty Foods.   Continued...