Loblaw Q1 profit down year over year

Canada’s largest grocer reports profit attributable to common shareholders of $198 million, down from $377 million a year ago

Loblaw Companies Ltd. raised its dividend as it reported a first-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago.

The grocery and drugstore retailer says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 31.5 cents per share, up from 29.5 cents per share.

The increased payment to shareholders came as Loblaw reported profit attributable to common shareholders of $198 million or 53 cents per share. That compared with a profit of $377 million or 98 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue totalled $10.66 billion, up from $10.34 billion, as its food retail business saw same-store sales growth of 2%. Its drugstore same-store sales growth, which includes its Shoppers Drug Mart business, was 2.2% as pharmacy same-store sales growth was 1.2% and front store same-store sales growth was 3.1%.

On an adjusted basis, Loblaw says it earned a profit from continuing operations attributable to common shareholders of 78 cents per share, down from 81 cents in the same quarter last year.

Excluding an accounting change related to its leases and a change related to the spin-out of the company's stake in Choice Properties, Loblaw says it earned an adjusted profit of 84 cents per share in its most recent quarter.

"We are pleased with the quarter, our continued strong operational performance, and our strategic momentum," executive chairman Galen G. Weston said in a statement.

"We are gaining traction on our key priorities and accelerating investments to deliver long-term value to customers and shareholders."

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