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Couche-Tard profit rises on acquisitions

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ATD.B-T) said on Tuesday its quarterly profit rose as stronger merchandise sales at its convenience stores and expansion in Europe offset softer results from selling gasoline at its U.S. outlets.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard has more than 6,000 convenience stores in its network in North America, most of which sell fuel, under banners that include Mac's and Circle K.

Thanks to its recent acquisition of Norway's Statoil Fuel & Retail, the company now also operates more than 2,000 fuel stations in Scandinavia, Poland, the Baltics and Russia, most of which sell convenience goods.

In the United States, same-store motor-fuel volume fell 0.5 percent in Couche-Tard's second quarter ended Oct. 14 and gross profit margin from fuel slipped to 15.20 cents US a gallon from 17.04 cents a year earlier.

But same-store merchandise revenue rose 0.4 percent in both the United States and Canada, and consolidated gross profit margin from merchandise and services rose.

The figures include Couche-Tard's pre-existing network results for the quarter, and Statoil's operations from July 1 to Sept. 30. The company said it will align the two units' reporting periods once Statoil's financial systems have been replaced.

Second-quarter earnings rose to $175.2 million US, or 94 cents a share, from $113.5 million, or 61 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding nonrecurring items related to the Statoil deal and other items, adjusted net earnings rose to $167.6 million, or 90 cents a share, from $114.3 million, or 62 cents, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 81 percent to $9.32 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 94 cents a share on revenue of $8.95 billion.

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