Empire Co., the Nova Scotia-based retailer and real estate investor, reported stronger-than-expected earnings for the latest quarter. The company, known for its food retailing footprint in Canada through brands like Sobeys, Safeway, and Foodland, recorded net earnings of 280.8 million Canadian dollars ($207.2 million), or C$1.03 a share, for the fiscal first quarter. This marked an increase from C$208.3 million, or C$0.71 a share, in the same period last year.
One of the factors contributing to Empire's strong performance was the sale of 56 retail fuel sites in western Canada to a subsidiary of Shell Canada for approximately C$100 million. This transaction boosted earnings for the quarter by C$71.5 million. Adjusted earnings reached C$0.78 a share, surpassing the mean forecast of C$0.75 by seven analysts polled by FactSet.
The company also reported a 1.7% increase in sales for the quarter, totaling C$8.08 billion, slightly exceeding analysts' expectations of C$8.01 billion. Same-store sales, excluding fuel, grew by 4.1% compared to the previous year.
President and Chief Executive Michael Medline noted that Empire's top-line performance in its full-service banners was stronger at the start of the fiscal year. The company also experienced double-digit growth in digital sales for its discount banner and maintained solid control over retail margins.
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