May 3 (Reuters) - Canadian grocery and pharmacy retailer Loblaw Cos Ltd reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as the company kept a tight lid on expenses and attracted more customers to its stores with discounts.
Loblaw, which sells everything from grocery to wireless mobile products, has been streamlining operations to counter intense competition from U.S. discount stores and ecommerce companies.
The company said last month it would sell its gas station business to asset manager Brookfield Business Partners LP for about C$540 million ($393 million).
Loblaw’s revenue rose marginally to C$10.40 billion.
Sales at Loblaw’s retail business rose slightly to $10.17 billion, but same-store sales were hurt by the timing of New Year’s Day and Easter holidays.
Net earnings available to common shareholders rose to C$230 million, or 57 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 25, from C$193 million, or 47 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.
The latest quarter included a charge of C$134 million, while the year-ago quarter included a charge of C$145 million, primarily related to its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart.
Excluding items, the company earned 90 Canadian cents per share, beating the average estimate of 87 Canadian cents. ($1 = 1.3730 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)