MONTREAL - Quebec-based pharmacy Jean Coutu (TSX:PJC.A) is raising its dividend and reporting higher net earnings of $57.7 million in its fourth quarter.
Jean Coutu says its quarterly dividend will rise 17.6 per cent to 10 cents.
The company earned 30 cents per share in the quarter, compared with $53.5 million, or 25 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013.
Revenues were up slightly to $685.4 million compared with $682.7 million year-over-year.
For the full year, revenues amounted to $2.73 billion, compared with $2.739, a decrease of 0.2 per cent, due to an increase in prescriptions of generic drugs and price reductions of generic drugs.
Jean Coutu's adjusted earnings per share were expected to come in at 29 cents per share in the fourth quarter, up from 23 cents per share a year earlier, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Net profit during fiscal year 2014 amounted to $437 million, or $2.12 per share, compared with $558.2 million, or $2.57 per share, for fiscal year 2013.
The $12.4-billion takeover of Shoppers Drug Mart (TSX:SC) by Loblaw (TSX:L) has raised questions about Jean Coutu's next move.
There are three major franchise systems in Quebec — Jean Coutu, Pharmaprix, the Quebec division of Shoppers Drug Mart Corp., and Brunet, which belongs to Montreal-based Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU) — as well as three major co-operatives — Uniprix, Familiprix and Proxim.
Metro will become the exclusive owner and operator of 18 pharmacies at Target stores in Quebec.
The Jean Coutu Group operates a network of 413 franchised stores in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario under the banners of PJC Jean Coutu, PJC Clinique, PJC Sante and PJC Sante Beaute.
It also owns Pro Doc Ltd, a Quebec-based subsidiary and manufacturer of generic drugs.
Jean Coutu has said it plans to spend nearly $190 million to build a new, larger headquarters and a distribution centre in Varennes, Que.