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Metro adjusts dividend policy amid lower Q1 adjusted earnings from operations

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU) is raising its dividend and adjusting its dividend policy, the Montreal-based grocery company told investors at their annual meeting.

Metro says its next dividend will increase to 30 cents per share, a 20 per cent increase from before.

The company is also raising its dividend target by five percentage points to 25 per cent of net income from the previous year, excluding non-recurring items.

The new dividend policy was revealed as Metro announced results from its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 21.

Its net income fell from a year earlier, to $99.2 million or 1.06 cents per share.

That compared with $117.3 million or $1.19 per share a year earlier, when discontinued operations contributing seven cents per share.

Metro's adjusted earnings from continuing operations dropped to $103.9 million or $1.11 per share, down from $1.12 in the first quarter of fiscal 2013.

The company's overall revenue was little changed, at about $2.7 billion, but same-store sales fell 0.5 per cent, the company said.

The company's profit missed analyst expectations. The average forecast had been for $1.13 per share of adjusted earnings and $1.15 per share of net income under standard accounting.

Chief executive Eric La Fleche said competition remains intense but the Metro's efforts and investments caused sales to improve from the prior two quarters.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Metro's shares were down 37 cents at $62.12 in Tuesday morning trading.