Couche-Tard reported record net earnings of $269.5 million ($0.47 per share on a diluted basis) for the first quarter of fiscal 2015.
Excluding non-recurring items for both comparable periods, net earnings would have been $276.0 million ($0.48 per share on a diluted basis) compared to $220.0 million ($0.39 per share on a diluted basis) for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, an increase of 25.5%.
Other highlights include:
• Same-store merchandise revenues up 2.8% in the U.S., 1.2% in Europe and 3.3% in Canada.
• Merchandise and service gross margin stood at 32.8% in the U.S., at 41.9% in Europe and at 33.3% in Canada, for a consolidated margin of 34.1%, an increase of 0.3%.
• Same-store road transportation fuel volume up 1.8% in the U.S., 1.7% in Europe and 0.3% in Canada.
• Road transportation fuel gross margin at US23.08¢ per gallon in the U.S., at • US11.67¢ per litre in Europe and at CA6.44¢ per litre in Canada.
• New quarterly dividend increase of 12.5% to CA4.5¢ per share.
• Moody’s increased the Corporation’s Canadian dollar denominated senior unsecured notes credit rating to Baa2.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of the first quarter,” said Alain Bouchard, president and CEO. “Although higher fuel margins have certainly contributed to our excellent results, driven by both improved supply contract terms and favorable market conditions during the quarter, what stands out above all is the continued strong performance of our teams which enabled us to post strong organic growth on all fronts,” Bouchard added. “This performance reflects the strength of our business model which relies not only on growth through acquisitions but also on the constant improvement of our existing network, namely through in-store innovation and cost control at all levels, allowing us to create value for our shareholders, even in the absence of significant acquisitions. That being said, we always keep looking at various opportunities regardless of size. Furthermore, we plan to accelerate the pace of construction and reconstruction of stores during the current and subsequent years,” concluded Bouchard.
“The substantial cash flows resulting from our strong first quarter results have allowed us to repay a significant portion of our debt which resulted in further improving, our leverage ratios,” said Raymond Paré, vice president and chief financial officer. “Thus, to date, we have completed the repayment of our $3.2 billion acquisition facility that we used to finance the acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail, just over two years ago. Return on capital employed also continues to grow, reaching 14% for the last 12-month period. All of these factors have certainly contributed to Moody’s decision to improve the credit rating on our senior notes to Baa2, which is great news for our partners and shareholders”.