June 5, 2008 / 6:34 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Saputo profit rises, aided by U.S. buy

(Adds closing stock price)

TORONTO, June 5 (Reuters) - Dairy products company Saputo Inc (SAP.TO) said on Thursday its profit and revenues climbed in the fourth quarter, boosted by a U.S. acquisition as well as higher sales volumes and prices.

Saputo, one of North America’s biggest cheese makers, said net earnings rose to C$75.2 million ($73.7 million), or 36 Canadian cents a share, from C$62.9 million, or 30 Canadian cents a share, in the same period the year earlier.

The results were as expected, with analysts, on average, forecasting a profit of 36 Canadian cents a share before exceptions, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue at the Montreal-based company grew by 25.5 percent to C$1.3 billion, with U.S. dairy products revenue rising to C$481.8 million.

The inclusion of its acquisition of U.S. industrial cheese business Land O’Lakes West Coast, along with an increase in sales volumes and selling prices were the main factors for the rise in revenue, Saputo said.

Revenue from operations in Canada, Europe and Argentina rose to C$746 million, helped in part by higher sales prices in Canada and Argentina and the inclusion of its British operations.

Revenue from its grocery products segment fell to C$38.1 million on lower Canadian sales volume due to price increases. The company said it was also hurt by highly competitive prices in the marketplace.

Saputo said its recent purchase of Wisconsin-based Alto Dairy Cooperative will enhance the company’s presence in the United States. It plans to fully integrate the Alto and Land O’Lakes purchases during fiscal 2009.

Shares of Saputo closed up 52 Canadian cents, or 1.9 percent, at C$28.44 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson

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