LAVAL, Que. - Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (TSX:ATD.B) increased its dividend Wednesday as it reported higher profits in its latest quarter compared with a year ago.
The Quebec-based convenience store and gas station company upped its quarterly dividend by half a cent to 4.5 cents per share.
The increase came as Couche-Tard, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said it earned US$269.5 million or 47 cents per diluted share in the quarter ended July 20 compared with a profit of $255 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of its 2014 financial year.
Revenue was up just more than three per cent to $9.19 billion compared with $8.90 billion year-over-year.
The company said currency translations of revenues and expenses from its Canadian and European operations into U.S. dollars shaved about $3 million from its net earnings in the quarter.
Excluding items such as the foreign exchange loss, a goodwill charge and acquisition costs, Couche-Tard said its adjusted net earnings were $276 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, compared with an adjusted net profit of $220 million, or 39 cents per diluted share a year ago.
The company said the increase was largely due to organic growth as well as recent acquisitions and a debt repayment.
Also Wednesday, Couche-Tard said it has signed a deal to sell its European-based aviation fuel business to Air BP, one of the world's largest suppliers of aviation fuel products and services. Financial terms of the deal to sell Statoil Fuel & Retail Aviation weren't released, but the sale will be done through a share purchase agreement expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
Statoil Fuel & Retail Aviation supplies fuel to airliners, general aviation, military and bulk customers in nine countries across Northern Europe.
BP Air says the deal will add about 73 new airports in Northern Europe to its 600-strong global fuels network. About 59 Statoil Fuel & Aviation employees, based in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, are expected to join Air BP, the aviation division of BP.
Couche-Tard has more than 6,200 convenience stores across North America as well as a network spanning Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia, comprised of some 2,250 stores.
The company also operates fuel terminals and fuel depots in eight countries.