By Ross Marowits
MONTREAL _ Canadian dairy processor and cheesemaker Saputo Inc. says its net profit increased nearly 11 per cent to $144.1 million in the third quarter of its fiscal year on a boost in revenues mainly resulting from a large acquisition in the United States.
The Montreal-based company said it earned 73 cents per diluted share for the period ended Dec. 31. That's up from 65 cents per share a year earlier when it earned $130 million.
Revenues were $2.34 billion, up 30 per cent from $1.8 billion a year earlier.
Saputo (TSX:SAP) was expected to earn 74 cents per share on $2.26 billion of revenue, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
The company said its results benefited from higher selling prices and sales volumes in Canada and international locations outside the United States. The fluctuation in the Canadian dollar and the Argentinian peso increased revenues by $21 million.
The company's pre-tax operating income (EBITDA) increased 22.4 per cent to $260 million.
Its U.S. operations were the biggest contributor to the growth as the segment profits increased 50 per cent to $121.1 million, largely due to the acquisition of Morningstar Foods on Jan. 1, 2013.
Revenues nearly doubled to $1.14 billion, from $663.6 million a year ago despite lower cheese sales volumes and the negative impact of the lower average block market per pound of cheese.
The Canadian segment, which includes its baking division, saw earnings fall 5.7 per cent to $116.1 million, due mainly to higher ingredient and operational costs. Revenues increased to $955.6 million, from $937.9 million in the prior year.
International operations earned $22.8 million on $249.5 million of revenues. That compared with $8.3 million on $199.1 million of revenue a year earlier.
The segment will grow following the closing of its takeover of Australia's oldest dairy processor. Saputo says it now owns a 78.9 per cent stake in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter, ahead of the Feb. 12 closing of its takeover offer.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Saputo's shares were up 25 cents at $52.14 in afternoon trading Thursday.
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