* Adjusted profit up 21 percent, beats estimates
* Revenue up 48 percent, beats expectations
* Pricing strategies boost same-store sales, hurt margins
* Hikes dividend by 17 pct to C$8.75/share
* Shares rises as much as 7 percent
Aug 30 (Reuters) - Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc’s first-quarter profit rose more than expected as acquisitions led to higher sales at its convenience store and gasoline stations.
The Canadian company also raised its quarterly dividend by about 17 percent, which helped push its shares up as much as 7 percent on Friday.
Couche-Tard bought Norway’s gas station chain operator Statoil Fuel & Retail in June last year. Since then its has bought over 100 stores which helped boost the number of its Mac’s and Circle K outlets.
These acquisitions helped total sales rise 48 percent to $8.90 billion in the quarter ended July 21. Analysts were expecting $9.15 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The strong sales were also helped by its pricing strategies which increased traffic at its stores, helping same-store merchandise sales rise. However, the strategy ate into its margins, which fell in the quarter.
Sales rose 16 percent at its merchandise business which sells tobacco products, beer, wine and grocery items and contributed 22 percent to total revenue. Gross margins inched up to 33.8 percent from 33.7 percent.
Sales rose by more than half at its motor fuel business and accounted for more than 70 percent of total revenue. However gross margins at the business fell.
Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard’s net profit more than doubled to $255.0 million, or $1.35 per share, in the quarter.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.16 per share, topping analysts’ estimates of 95 cents per share.
The company — which operates about 6,200 convenience stores across North America, including almost 4,700 stores with fuel stations — raised its dividend to C$8.75 per share.
Shares of the company were up 5 percent at C$60.00 in late morning trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange. They touched a high of C$61.50 earlier in the session.