UPDATE 1-George Weston reports jump in profit, boosts dividend

Tue May 7, 2013 9:16am EDT

May 7 (Reuters) - George Weston Ltd, the Canadian food producer that controls the Loblaw Cos Ltd grocery chain, raised its dividend for the second time in six months as adjusted profit rose, driven by improved performance at Loblaw.

Net earnings for the quarter rose 36 percent to C$225 million ($223 million), or C$1.18 per share, helped by a weaker Canadian dollar.

Adjusted earnings rose to 88 Canadian cents per basic share from 89 cents. Analysts on average had expected earnings of 90 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 4 percent to C$7.49 billion.

George Weston raised its quarterly dividend to 41.5 Canadian cents per share.

Loblaw said last week it would continue to produce its Joe Fresh clothing line in Bangladesh after a deadly textile factory collapse on April 24, but promised to improve the facilities it uses there.

The grocery chain reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue last week despite growing competition and raised its dividend for the second time in six months.

Operating profit was flat at $59 million in George Weston's baked goods business, Weston Foods, and the company said it expects sales growth at the unit to be moderate for the year.

The bakery division, which employees about 6,000 workers at more than 40 facilities in North America, sells products under brands such as Wonder, D'Italiano and Ace Bakery.

The company's shares, which have risen 16 percent so far this year, closed at C$81.09 on Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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