September 14, 2011 / 11:49 AM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Sobeys parent Empire posts higher Q1 profit

(Adds share buyback details in paragraph 5 & 6)

* Q1 EPS C$1.31 vs C$1.26 last year

* Q1 rev up 3 pct

* Says to buy back 2 pct of class A shares for cancellation

Sept 14 (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd (EMPa.TO) posted a 3 percent rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by higher sales in its fully owned unit Sobeys, Canada’s No. 2 grocer.

Net earnings for the first quarter, ended August 6, rose to C$89.2 million ($90 million), or C$1.31 a share, from C$86.3 million, or C$1.26 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned C$1.32 a share.

Revenue rose 3 percent to C$4.15 billion, while same-store sales at Sobeys rose 1.7 percent. Sobeys’ sales during the quarter was C$4.11 billion versus C$3.98 billion a year ago.

The company also said it will buy back 673,755 non-voting class A shares, about 2 percent of the total outstanding shares, at market price for cancellation. The company currently has about 33.7 million outstanding class A shares.

The company expects the buyback to start from September 20, 2011 and terminate September next year.

Shares of the company closed at C$57.15 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1 = 0.991 Canadian Dollars) (Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Aftab Ahmed in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Joyjeet Das)

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