UPDATE 1-Safeway acquisition boosts Sobeys owner Empire's profit

Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:42pm EST
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(Adds details from statement, share movement)

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd, the owner of Canadian grocery chain Sobeys Inc, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, boosted by its acquisition of the Canadian assets of U.S. supermarket chain Safeway Inc.

Empire's shares, which have rallied in the run-up to the results, were down 2 percent at C$83.72 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It reached a record high of C$86.49 earlier in the session.

The company has been closing stores and divesting assets after the Safeway deal was closed in November 2013. It said earlier this year it would close 50 underperforming stores and sell its dairy manufacturing plants in western Canada.

Sobeys' same-store sales increased 1.3 percent in the second quarter ended Nov. 1. Total revenue rose about 35 percent to C$5.96 billion ($5.15 billion).

Empire said profit from its food and retailing business, which accounted for nearly 86 percent of its total earnings, rose 78 percent to C$100.4 million.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned C$1.39 per share.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of C$1.36 per share and sales of C$5.95 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. ($1 = 1.1567 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Anet Josline Pinto and Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bengaluru; Editing by Siddharth Cavale and Don Sebastian)