March 16, 2009 / 4:31 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Couche-Tard profit rises nearly 41 percent

* Q3 EPS $0.36 versus $0.24 a year earlier

* Says U.S. gasoline margins, acquisitions help results

* Revenue falls 14.8 percent to $3.9 billion (Adds analyst’s comment, details, share price. In U.S. dollars)

TORONTO, March 10 (Reuters) - Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATDb.TO) reported a nearly 41 percent rise in quarterly profit on Tuesday, due in part to earnings stemming from acquisitions and from higher gasoline margins in the United States.

Couche-Tard, North America’s second-biggest convenience store operator, which also operates a string of gas bars, said it earned $71.1 million, or 36 cents a share, in its third quarter, up from $50.5 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company, which operates under the Circle K banner in the United States and Mac’s outside Quebec in Canada, said revenue fell 14.8 percent to $3.9 billion in the quarter ended Feb 1. A year earlier its third quarter ended Feb 3.

The drop in revenue was mostly due to a $890.4 million decline in motor fuel revenues as prices fell.

Analysts had expected average earnings per share of 31 cents a share before items and revenue of $4.08 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

BMO Capital Markets had forecast earnings of 43 cents a share, above consensus, on expectations of a U.S. fuel margin of 20.4 cents a gallon.

Couche-Tard said the fuel gross margin for company-operated stores in the United States rose 26.6 percent to 18.21 cents a gallon in the quarter.

“This is not a concern due to the hard-to-predict, short-term nature of gasoline margin fluctuations,” said BMO’s David Hartley in a note to clients.

“Excluding this, we view the quarter as a little messy but essentially in line.”

Shares of Couche-Tard were up 12 Canadian cents at C$13.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday afternoon.

Couche-Tard operates more than 5,400 convenience stores in Canada and the United States. About 3,600 have gas bars.

$1=$1.27 Canadian Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Peter Galloway

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