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Metro reports $228.5M Q1 profit, raises dividend

Sales for the quarter totalled $4.97 billion
Metro Niagara Falls
Metro's food same-store sales were up 6.1%.

Metro Inc. reported a first-quarter profit of $228.5 million as its sales gained 6.5% and raised its dividend.

The grocery and drugstore retailer said Tuesday it will pay a quarterly dividend of 33.5 cents per share, up from 30.25 cents per share.

The increased payment to shareholders came as Metro says its profit amounted to 99 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 23 compared with a profit of $231.1 million or 97 cents per diluted share a year earlier when the company had more shares outstanding.

"We recorded solid results in the first quarter as our teams continued to deliver good value to customers in all our food and pharmacy banners," Metro chief executive Eric La Flèche said in a statement.

"We are confident that our sustained investments in the modernization of our supply chain and our retail networks will continue to create long term value for our shareholders."

Sales for the 12-week period totalled $4.97 billion, up from $4.67 billion in the same quarter a year earlier that ended on Dec. 17, 2022.

Food same-store sales were up 6.1%, helped in part by the timing of the end of the quarter relative to Christmas. Adjusting for the Christmas week shift, Metro says food same-store sales were up 3.4%. Pharmacy same-store sales were up 3.9%.

On an adjusted basis, Metro says it earned $1.02 per diluted share, up from an adjusted profit of $1 per share a year earlier.

It is outlook, Metro continued to say it expected significant headwinds in 2024 with the launch of its automated distribution centre in Terrebonne, Que., and the launch of the final phase of its automated fresh produce plant in Toronto next spring.

It says it expects some temporary duplication of costs and learning curve inefficiencies, as well as higher depreciation and lower capitalized interest.

The company maintained its guidance for operating income before depreciation and amortization to grow by less than 2% and adjusted net earnings per share to be flat to down 10 cents in its 2024 financial year compared with 2023.

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