TORONTO, April 29 (Reuters) - Profit at Shoppers Drug Mart SC.TO rose about 19 percent in the first quarter, Canada's largest pharmacy chain said on Tuesday, helped by an aggressive expansion campaign, cost cuts and a tax reduction.
The company also announced a dividend of 21.5 Canadian cents per common share, payable in July.
Shoppers said it earned C$101.3 million ($100.1 million), or 47 Canadian cents a share, in the period ended March 22, up from C$85.3 million, or 39 Canadian cents a share, in the comparable period a year earlier.
Revenue in the quarter was up 10 percent at C$2.02 billion, continuing to climb as the company expands both the size and number of its stores.
Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates had expected, on average, earnings of 46 Canadian cents a share on revenue of C$2.03 billion.
Shoppers, called Pharmaprix in Quebec, said same-store sales rose 6 percent. Prescription drug sales were up 5 percent at C$972 million, while front-of-store sales, which include a range of items, climbed 7 percent to C$1.05 billion.
Including eight relocations, the company opened or acquired 51 drug stores and closed five in the period.
Shoppers has said it expects sales growth of 10.5 percent to 12 percent in 2008.
$1=$1.01 Canadian Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway