November 3, 2009 / 6:10 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-Saputo profit spurred by Neilson buy

* EPS C$0.45 vs forecast C$0.41

* Revenue rises 2 percent to C$1.48 billion

* Shares up 1.7 percent at C$26.57 (Adds analyst, company comments)

TORONTO, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Dairy products company Saputo Inc (SAP.TO) said on Tuesday its quarterly profit rose by more than a third, helped by a string of purchases, and said it would not slow its pace of acquisitions.

Montreal-based Saputo, Canada’s biggest cheese maker, said second-quarter profit jumped 37 percent as it continued to benefit from its aggressive acquisition strategy, which included the 2008 purchase of Neilson Dairy.

Saputo bought the Neilson Dairy division of George Weston Ltd (WN.TO) for C$465 million in late 2008, boosting its presence in the Ontario fluid milk market.

The deal also included Neilson’s entire line of milk products, dairy beverages, cream products and nondairy creamers, as well as butter, yogurt and juices.

In early 2008, it also bought Wisconsin-based Alto Dairy.

“These guys continue to do an outstanding job in driving inefficiencies out of the business and taking these acquisitions, such as Neilson, integrating them very well and on top of that driving higher levels of profit out of these acquisitions,” said Brian Yarbrough, an analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

Saputo earned C$94.5 million ($88.5 million), or 45 Canadian cents a share, in the second quarter, ended Sept. 30, up from from C$69 million, or 33 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 2 percent to C$1.48 billion, mainly due to gains from the Neilson deal.

Analysts had expected, on average, earnings of 41 Canadian cents a share before items and revenue of C$1.56 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Saputo’s shares, which have risen almost 20 percent so far this year, were up 1.7 percent at C$26.57 early on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our ongoing focus on improving operational efficiencies is delivering positive results,” Lino Saputo Jr., the company’s president and chief executive, said on a conference call.

“We will not become complacent with our success and we will remain focused on finding new ways to improve overall efficiencies.”

$1=$1.08 Canadian Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson

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