March 27, 2008 / 3:56 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Richelieu Hardware profit rises on stronger sales

(Adds details, quotes)

OTTAWA, March 27 (Reuters) - Richelieu Hardware Ltd (RCH.TO) said on Thursday that first-quarter earnings rose 11 percent as higher sales and lower taxes helped results for the distributor of specialty hardware.

The company, which also produces kitchen cabinets and doors, said earnings rose to C$6.6 million ($6.5 million), or 29 Canadian cents a share, from C$5.9 million, or 26 Canadian cents per share, in the same period last year.

Analysts had forecast a profit of 28 Canadian cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue in the typically weak period, ended Feb. 29, grew 1.7 percent to C$96.1 million, as sales in the United States grew 11 percent and were 3 percent higher in Canada.

The company said its net profit margin increased to 6.9 percent from 6.3 percent. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose about 1 percent to C$10.5 million and the EBITDA margin slipped to 11 percent from 11.1 percent in the same period last year.

“We are further intensifying our North American market development,” Chief Executive Richard Lord said in a statement. “We are in excellent financial health and remain on the lookout for acquisition opportunities matching our criteria in both Canada and the United States.”

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Susan Taylor; editing by Rob Wilson

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