UPDATE 2-Couche-Tard convenience chain's adjusted profit rises

Wed Sep 5, 2012 1:14pm EDT

* Adj EPS $0.95 vs $0.75 year earlier

* Revenue up 16.3 percent at $6.02 billion

* Same-store merchandise sales up 2.8 pct in U.S.

Sept 5 (Reuters) - Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc said on Wednesday its adjusted quarterly profit rose, helped in part by recent acquisitions, stronger merchandise sales and higher fuel margins.

But net earnings fell, reflecting one-time costs associated with Couche-Tard's recent $2.58 billion acquisition of Norway's Statoil Fuel & Retail.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard operates more than 6,000 convenience stores in North America under banners that include Mac's and Circle K, the majority of which sell motor fuel.

The Statoil deal is its first venture in Europe, bringing in 2,307 locations in Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltics and Russia.

Same-store merchandise sales rose 2.8 percent in the United States, or 6.6 percent excluding tobacco products, and 5.0 percent in Canada.

Couche-Tard said in July that one cigarette manufacturer's new supply terms and price structure was hurting its tobacco results.

"In light of the changing conditions in supply terms and of the persistent competitive landscape, the tobacco products category remains a challenge," Chief Executive Alain Bouchard said in a statement.

He said Couche-Tard was evaluating its options on tobacco, "with the goal of maximizing the marginal contribution of this product category."

Couche-Tard's road transportation fuel profit margin rose to 23.20 cents a gallon from 19.95 cents in the same quarter last year. In Canada, it rose to 5.61 cents a liter, from 5.53 cents.

First-quarter earnings fell to $102.9 million, or 57 cents a share, from $139.5 million, or 75 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items associated with the Statoil deal, including a $113.5 million loss on foreign exchange contracts, earnings rose to $173.0 million, or 95 cents a share. Revenue rose 16.3 percent to $6.02 billion.

Analysts, on average, had been expecting earnings of 89 cents a share on revenue of $6.74 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The figures include Couche-Tard's pre-existing network results for the quarter to July 22, and Statoil's operations from June 20 to 30. The company said it will align the two units' reporting periods once Statoil's financial systems have been replaced.

Shares jumped after the earnings release, but then fell back to levels seen before the announcement. The stock was at C$49.06, down 2.3 percent from the previous day's close on Wednesday afternoon.

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