UPDATE 5-Canadian Tire profit falls on higher spending
* Q2 2011 EPS C$1.29 vs C$1.50 in Q2 2010
* Profit missed C$1.45 estimate, according to I/B/E/S
* Revenue up 4 pct to C$2.57 bln
* Spending on promotions, infrastructure holds back profit (Adds further detail on costs from earnings call)
By Allison Martell and S. John Tilak
TORONTO, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Canadian Tire Corp (CTC.TO) (CTCa.TO), one of the country's biggest retailers, said on Thursday quarterly profit fell 14 percent as it spent more on promotions and invested in infrastructure.
Profit at the company, whose flagship Canadian Tire chain sells housewares, sporting goods and automotive products, dropped even as higher gasoline prices helped boost retail sales by 5.1 percent.
Earnings fell to C$105.8 million, or C$1.29 a share, in the fiscal second quarter ended July 2, from C$122.8 million, or C$1.50, a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of C$1.45 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue, which includes financial services, rose 4 percent to C$2.57 billion, compared with the average analyst estimate of C$2.62 billion.
EARNINGS HIT BY HIGHER COSTS
Lower-than-expected sales of some seasonal goods and costs related to the company's Forzani Group acquisition held back profit, said Chief Executive Officer Stephen Wetmore in a release.
A new loyalty program raised operating expenses, and the company will spend more on the pilot, Chief Financial Officer Marco Marrone said on a conference call Thursday afternoon.
But growth in marketing and advertising expenses will taper off in the second half, he said.
The company also invested an undisclosed amount on the September launch of online tire sales.
"We want to bring online tire sales to the mass market," said Glenn Butt, executive vice president of automotive, in an email.
Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough said that higher costs will likely taper off in the coming quarters, as short-term investments wrap up. But competition and consumer confidence are more of a challenge.
"It's a tough operating environment," he said.
A TARGET FOR TARGET?
Canadian Tire's stock took a hit in January when Target Corp (TGT.N) said it would enter Canada. Shares are still well below their January high.
The full impact of Target's entry will not be clear for some time, but Yarbrough said that Canadian Tire only has a 15 percent product overlap with Target.
FORANZI ACQUISITION ON TRACK
Canadian Tire's planned C$771 million purchase of Forzani Group Ltd FGL.TO, the country's top sports retailer, cleared a review by the Competition Bureau in early August. The company said it expects that transaction to close in the current quarter.
The Toronto-based company also owns PartSource autoparts outlets and Mark's Work Wearhouse, a chain of casual and work clothing stores that it acquired about a decade ago.
Since the acquisition, revenue and margins have improved substantially at Mark's, and analysts have pointed to that as an indication of what the retailer could achieve with Forzani.
Canadian Tire's more heavily traded Class A shares rose 0.7 percent to C$55.92 Thursday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
($1=$1 Canadian) (Editing by Frank McGurty)
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