December 13, 2007 / 3:12 PM / 10 years ago

Empire profit up 5 percent as Sobeys weighs in

TORONTO (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd (EMPa.TO) said on Thursday second-quarter profit rose about 5 percent as its balance sheet reflected growth at its recently privatized Sobeys supermarket chain.

Net income was C$58.4 million ($57.2 million), or 89 Canadian cents a share, up from C$55.8 million, or 85 Canadian cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

On average, analysts polled by Reuters Estimates expected the company to earn 86 Canadian cents a share.

Empire, which earlier this year took Sobeys private in a C$1.06-billion deal, said earnings before capital gains and other items were C$59.9 million, or 91 Canadian cents a share.

That compares with C$49.8 million, or 76 Canadian cents a share a year ago.

Revenue for the Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based company was up 3.9 percent at C$3.48 billion. Same-store sales at Sobeys, Canada’s second-biggest supermarket chain, increased by 2.3 percent.

The company will pay a dividend of C$0.165 per share payable January 31, 2008.

Empire’s stock was up 64 Canadian cents, or 1.5 percent, at C$42.66 by mid morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway

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