March 13, 2012 / 3:58 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 2-Couche-Tard profit rises on acquisitions

* Q3 EPS $0.48 vs $0.37 a year earlier

* Revenue up 20.4 pct at $6.6 billion

* Merchandise, service sales up 4.6 pct

March 13 (Reuters) - Convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc reported a higher quarterly profit on Tuesday, helped by the acquisition of new stores.

Revenue rose 20.4 percent to $6.6 billion, due in large part to higher fuel prices and volumes at its gas stands.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Derek Dley said margins from fuel were slightly weaker than he had expected, but volume was much stronger.

“It shows that they are continuing to gain market share,” he said. “It looks like they may have taken some margin on the fuel side to gain that market share, but overall gross profit from fuel is up, and at the end of the day, that’s what we look for.”

Merchandise and service revenue rose 4.6 percent. Just over 40 percent of that growth was from acquisitions. In established stores, merchandise and sales revenue rose 3.4 percent in the United States, and 3.1 percent in Canada.

Adjusting for new pricing and supply terms introduced by one cigarette manufacturer, same-store sales in the United states rose 6.7 percent. Dley called that a “really, really strong number”.

Net income for the quarter ended Jan. 29 rose to $86.8 million, or 48 cents a share, from $69.6 million, or 37 cents, the year earlier. Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 46 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quebec-based Couche-Tard operates nearly 6,000 convenience stores across North America, the majority of which sell motor fuel.

Couche-Tard shares were up 1.4 percent at C$31.87 on Tuesday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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