May 8, 2008 / 7:24 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Acquisitions help lift Uni-Select profit

TORONTO, May 8 (Reuters) - Uni-Select Inc (UNS.TO) reported a 4 percent rise in first-quarter profit on Thursday, as recent acquisitions boosted sales, although this was partly offset by the effects of the strong Canadian dollar.

Uni-Select, which distributes replacement auto parts, equipment and tools, said it had net earnings of C$6.1 million ($6 million), or 31 Canadian cents a share, compared with C$5.8 million, or 30 Canadian cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Sales at the Boucherville, Quebec-based company were up 3.1 percent at C$281.7 million from C$273.2 million.

Uni-Select said sales at its Automotive Group USA unit grew 0.9 percent to C$149.9 million, with acquisitions contributing C$26.2 million.

Sales at its Automotive Group Canada unit rose 7.2 percent to C$118.8 million, while sales at the Heavy Duty Group fell 5.7 percent to C$13 million.

“We are pleased to note the contribution of recent acquisitions to the results of the company,” said Richard Roy, president and chief executive of Uni-Select, in a statement.

“During the upcoming quarters, the results of our Canadian and U.S. operations will continue to benefit from the contributions of acquisitions completed in recent quarters.”

Roy said Uni-Select would continue to search for expansion projects in Canada and in the United States.

On Thursday, the company said it bought Beck/Arnley Worldparts Corp and its Canadian subsidiary Beck/Arnley Worldparts Canada ULC, both automotive replacement parts distributors specializing in foreign vehicles.

Uni-Select did not say how much it bought the company for, but said the deal would initially add US$29 million in annual sales.

The company said that, excluding the impact of the high Canadian dollar, sales would have risen 10.8 percent and earnings would have been 33 Canadian cents per share for the quarter, an increase of 10 percent.

Shares of Uni-Select were up 60 Canadian cents, or 2.7 percent, at C$22.60 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson)

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