August 6, 2008 / 3:13 PM / in 9 years

Saputo profit jumps 21 pct, dividend up

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s biggest cheese maker, Saputo Inc (SAP.TO), reported a 21 percent jump in first-quarter profit on Wednesday as higher revenue and prices more than offset the impact of a stronger Canadian dollar.

<p>Lino Saputo, (L) chairman of the board of Saputo Inc., and his son Lino Saputo Jr., president and chief executive officer, share a laugh before their annual general meeting in Montreal August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi (CANADA)</p>

The dairy and cheese processor said it earned C$83 million ($79 million), or 40 Canadian cents a share, in the period ended June 30. That compares with a profit of C$68.4 million, or 33 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Montreal-based Saputo also said it would increase its quarterly dividend to 14 Canadian cents a share from 12 Canadian cents.

Analysts had expected a profit of 40 Canadian cents a share before items, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue increased 11 percent to C$1.36 billion, getting a big boost from the company’s U.S. dairy products sector, which reflected Saputo’s acquisition of Alto Dairy Cooperative in April and higher cheese prices.

Appreciation of the Canadian dollar took a C$44 million bite out of revenue, Saputo said.

($1=$1.05 Canadian)

Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Peter Galloway

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