UPDATE 1-Jean Coutu sales rise on generic drug demand, store addition

Tue Jul 8, 2014 7:55am EDT
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July 8 (Reuters) - Canadian pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc 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 25 percent increase. ($1 = 1.0684 Canadian Dollars) (Reporting By Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore)