George Weston Ltd., Canada's biggest food processor and distributor, posted higher profits on Tuesday, bolstered by strong growth in its dairy and baking operations.
Net earnings for the third quarter ended Oct. 6 were C$143 million ($90 million), or C$1.09 a share, up from C$118 million, or 90 Canadian cents a share, in the corresponding quarter of last year.
Weston, which owns a majority share of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Canada's No. 1 supermarket chain, said food processing sales of C$1.3 billion during the quarter were 45 per cent ahead year-on-year.
Revenue during the quarter was C$7.79 billion, up 12 percent from C$6.96 billion in the same period last year.
Most of the sales increase came from the acquisition of Unilever Plc's Bestfoods Baking Co Inc., which Weston completed in July at a price of $1.76 billion.
Excluding the Bestfoods division, renamed George Weston Bakeries, sales rose 5 percent during the quarter.
"The dairy operation and the fresh and frozen baking operation continue to reflect solid volume growth as well as firm pricing," Weston said in a statement.But it added: "Fresh farmed salmon prices remain temporarily very depressed due to current world market excess supply."
Shares of Weston closed up 65 Canadian cents at C$103 on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, up 22 percent on the year.Weston said that after the quarter ended, it sold 4.2 million Loblaw shares at a price of C$48.50 each, reducing its ownership in the company to 61 percent from 63 per cent.($1=$1.59 Canadian)