September 13, 2012 / 12:16 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Empire Co profit rises on higher sales at Sobeys

Sept 13 (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd, parent of Sobeys, Canada's No. 2 grocer, reported a 22 percent rise in first-quarter profit on a higher sales contribution from the grocery chain.

Net earnings rose to C$108.9 million ($111.59 million), or C$1.60 per share, in the quarter ended Aug. 4, from C$89.2 million, or C$1.31 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned C$1.52 per share while Sobeys' contribution to adjusted earnings, excluding minority interests, rose 26.7 percent.

Adjusted earnings on investments and other operations, which include Crombie Real Estate Investment Trust, residential developer Genstar and Empire Theatres, almost halved to C$3.8 million.

Total sales rose 9.7 percent to C$4.56 billion, while same-store sales, a key measure for retailers, rose 1.8 percent.

Sobeys contribution to sales rose almost 10 percent to $4.51 billion, from $4.10 billion a year earlier.

Sobeys's gross margin fell to 23.15 percent from 24.20 percent a year earlier, the company said.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of C$1.40 per share on revenue of C$4.48 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the company which has a market value of C$1.95 billion, closed at C$57.58 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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