Canada's Metro reports higher profit on sales gain

Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:55am EST

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Jan 29 (Reuters) - Canada's Metro Inc reported higher earnings on Tuesday, a day after boosting its quarterly dividend by more than 16 percent, as sales at its supermarket chain rose in the three months to Dec. 22.

Net earnings rose to C$121.4 million ($120.9 million), or C$1.23 a share, from C$103.7 million, or C$1.01, a year earlier. Sales rose 2.7 percent to C$2.70 billion.

Sales at established stores, an important indicator for retailers, rose 1.5 percent in the fiscal first quarter.

Late on Monday, the Montreal-based firm declared a dividend of 25 Canadian cents a share, up from 21.5 Canadian cents last quarter.

Last week, Metro said it would sell nearly half of its stake in Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, a convenience store and gasoline station operator, for nearly C$479 million.

Metro, along with rivals such as Loblaw Cos Ltd, are facing rising competition as Wal-Mart Stores Inc expands its grocery offerings in Canada. Target Corp, the No. 2 U.S. discounter, is opening its first Canadian stores this spring, and it will also sell groceries.

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