Couche-Tard Reports Increased Earnings for Fifth Consecutive Year

Published in CSP Daily News

Focusing on Statoil synergies, cost reductions, new initiatives in Europe

LAVAL, Quebec -- For its fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, ended April 28, 2013, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has announced net earnings of $146.4 million, compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 net earnings of $117.8 million. For fiscal 2013, it had net earnings of $572.8 million, compared to fiscal 2012 net earnings of $457.6 million.

Revenues were $8.8 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, up $2.7 billion, an increase of 44.9%, mainly attributable to acquisitions. This item contributing to the growth in revenues was partially offset by the unfavorable weather conditions in several of the corporation's markets, the negative impact of the 13th week in the fourth quarter of 2012, a lower road transportation fuel average retail price at the pump and by a weaker Canadian dollar.

Same-store merchandise revenues up 0.1% in the United States and 0.9% in Canada. In the United States, excluding tobacco products, the increase is 2% on a same-store basis.

Consolidated merchandise and service gross margin down 0.1% in the United States and up 0.2% in Canada.

Same-store road transportation fuel volume up 1.1% in the United States. Road transportation fuel gross margin stood at 19.30 cents per gallon in the United States, at 9.83 cents per liter in Europe and at 6.01 cents (Canadian) per liter in Canada.

"This fifth fiscal year posting an increase in net earnings was marked by a fourth quarter in which growth was slightly lower than the previous quarters, partly explained by less favorable weather conditions in several of our markets, but especially by higher expenses in Europe," said Alain Bouchard, president and CEO.

"We also incurred significant marketing expenses to support our new initiatives in Europe including 'miles' our new signature fuel brand which promises to take our customers further for the same price, as well as our 'Coin Offer' program aimed at promoting our in-store value fresh-food offering," he said. "Every day, we get closer to our synergies objective related to the acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail [in Norway]. Fiscal 2013 has been a year of analysis, learning and planning. We are now eager to begin fiscal 2014, which should be a year of execution and achievements."

Raymond Pare, vice president and CFO, added, "Despite the fourth quarter's unfavorable weather and persistent uncertain economic conditions, our North American business units continued to create value through increased contribution from both merchandise and services and road transportation fuel while controlling expenses."

Since the acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail in 2012, Couche-Tard has been actively working on identifying and implementing available synergies and cost-reduction opportunities, it said.

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, Couche-Tard recorded synergies and cost savings estimated at approximately $11 million before income taxes, for a total of $28 million in fiscal 2013. These synergies and cost reductions mainly reduced cost of sales as well as operating, selling, administrative and general expenses. These synergies and cost reductions came from a variety of sources, such as cost reduction following the delisting of Statoil Fuel & Retail, the renegotiation of certain agreements with suppliers, the reduction in store costs, the restructuring of certain departments.

Click here to view the full fourth-quarter earnings report.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard's network currently includes almost 6,200 c-stores throughout North America, including approximately 4,500 stores with fuel. It has agreements for the supply of motor fuel to more than 350 sites operated by independent operators. Its North American network consists of 13 business units, including nine in the United States covering 40 states and the District of Columbia (under the Circle K banner) and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces (under the Couche-Tard and Mac's banners). Through its acquisition of Statoil Fuel & Retail, Couche-Tard also operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Poland, the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Russia.