February 11, 2010 / 4:46 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 2-Shoppers Drug Mart profit rises; boosts dividend

* Sees 2010 sales up 6-7 pct

* EPS C$0.79 vs analysts’ forecast C$0.80

* Boosts quarterly dividend 5 pct

* Same store sales up 7.1 percent (Adds details and analyst comments)

By Scott Anderson

TORONTO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Shoppers Drug Mart SC.TO raised its quarterly dividend on Thursday, and said it sees new store openings boosting sales, as it reported fourth-quarter results that narrowly missed market expectations.

Shoppers, Canada’s biggest pharmacy chain, said it expects overall sales to grow modestly this year as it adds between 105 and 115 new stores to its nationwide chain of 1,291.

It sees the additional stores boosting total sales by 6 percent to 7 percent, underpinned by same-store pharmacy sales growth of 4 percent to 5 percent and growth of 2.75 percent to 4.25 percent in same-store sales of other merchandise.

Octagon Capital analyst Robert Gibson said the sales projections were conservative given that sales at Shoppers usually rise an annual rate of about 10 percent.

The company raised its quarterly dividend by 5 percent to 22.5 Canadian cents.

The company earned C$171.1 million ($161.7 million), or 79 Canadian cents a share, for the quarter to Jan 2, helped by stronger sales of prescription drugs and flu products.

That is up from C$166.5 million, or 77 Canadian cents a share, in the year-before period.

Revenue eased to C$2.49 billion from C$2.50 billion in the previous year when an extra week was included in the quarterly results.

Same same-store sales rose 7.1 percent.

Analysts had expected, on average, earnings per share of 80 Canadian cents before items, and revenue of C$2.56 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“It’s not a big miss. It’s not that big a deal,” Gibson said.

Prescription drug sales gained 8 percent in the quarter to C$1.15 billion, accounting for 46.1 percent of the sales mix.

Front-of-store sales, including cosmetics, candy and over-the-counter medications, jumped 6.5 percent to C$1.34 billion, excluding tobacco, on a same-store basis. ($1=$1.05 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Peter Galloway)

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