UPDATE 1-Lower generic drug prices hurts Jean Coutu's revenue

Thu Jan 9, 2014 8:47am EST

Related Topics

* Third-quarter revenue falls 0.6 pct to C$712.5 mln

* Same-store pharmacy sales down 1.6 pct

* Profit rises 11 percent, beats analysts' estimates

* Profit rise helped by lower costs, taxes (Adds background, same-store sales)

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Canadian pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc reported a fall in third-quarter revenue, hurt by regulations that have capped the prices of generic drugs.

The company, which has stores in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, said the growth in the number of generic drugs' prescriptions with lower selling prices than branded drugs also hurt sales -- a trend that it expects will continue.

However, Jean Coutu reported a better-then-expected 11 percent rise in profit, helped by a fall in expenses and a lower tax bill.

The company and its rival Shopper's Drug Mart Corp have been hurt by the province of Ontario's ban on drugstores' sales of their own private-label generic prescription drugs. In November, the Supreme Court of Canada's upheld the ban.

While the ruling only applies directly to Ontario, the biggest market in Canada, it could inspire similar bans in other provinces, which have already followed Ontario's lead in cutting prices for generic drugs.

Longueuil, Quebec-based Jean Coutu sells its own Pro Doc generic drugs in Quebec, but the chain has relatively fewer outlets in Ontario.

The company said on Thursday revenue fell 0.6 percent to C$712.5 million ($659.81 million) in the quarter ended Nov. 30.

Total same-store sales fell 1.3 percent, while same-store pharmacy sales fell 1.6 percent.

Net profit rose to C$62.5 million, or 30 Canadian cents per share, from C$56.2 million, or 26 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 28 Canadian cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's tax bill fell 9.6 percent in the quarter, while cost of sales fell about 2 percent.

Shares of Jean Coutu, which have risen about 32 percent in the last one year, closed at C$18.63 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1 = 1.0799 Canadian dollars) (Reporting By Sneha Banerjee in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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