Couche-Tard quarterly results top estimates, helped by panic buying

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a Couche-Tard convenience store in Montreal, April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

(Reuters) - Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc's ATDb.TO quarterly results beat estimates on Monday, as customers spent more per trip to its convenience stores, even as overall traffic declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similar to other food and essential items’ retailers, Couche-Tard was allowed to keep most of its stores open during the coronavirus lockdowns and saw a surge in the sale of canned goods and cleaning products due to panic buying.

However, the company said traffic soon tapered off as customers increasingly chose to stay at home over fears of the fast-spreading virus.

A drop in demand at the company’s fuel stations dragged down its total revenue by 26.1% to $9.69 billion from a year earlier, but it still beat analysts’ average estimate of $9.36 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue at Couche-Tard’s fuel retail business, its biggest segment, fell 34% to about $6.32 billion.

Excluding certain items, the company reported earnings of 47 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of 43 cents, as its profit margins got a boost from a fall in crude oil prices.

Net income attributable to the company rose to $576.3 million, or 52 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended April 26, from $293.1 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi