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Strong sales of tools, auto products helped boost Canadian Tire's Q4 results

TORONTO - Canadian Tire Corp. (TSX:CTC.A) says strong sales of outdoor tools, recreation and automotive products helped the company boost its profits by 17 per cent in the fourth quarter.

The national retailer's clothing sales also rose as subsidiaries introduced more brands and added Olympic apparel ahead of the 2014 Winter Games, currently being held in Sochi, Russia.

The Toronto-based company — which has the Canadian Tire, Mark's, and Sport Chek brands, among others — said it earned net income of $191 million during the three-month period ended Dec. 28, 2013.

That's up from $162.8 million a year earlier and better than expected.

The company's A shares gained about three per cent after the announcement.

Canadian Tire's net income amounted to $2.35 per basic share, an increase from $2 per basic share year-over-year. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $2.23 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Its overall revenue for the period was $3.328 billion, compared with $3.166 billion in the previous year.

Canadian Tire said the earnings were also complemented by an increase in sales at FGL Sports, the subsidiary that operates the Sport Chek and recently-acquired Pro Hockey Life stores.

At Sport Chek, same-store sales, an important gauge in the retail sector, were up 15.6 per cent year-over year. The company said the sales were driven by its introduction of more brands in casual clothing and athletic footwear and the addition of Olympic apparel.

A growth in sales of industrial clothing and footwear, helped pump sales at its Mark's stores. The subsidiary's same-store sales grew by 5.2 per cent in the quarter.

The company also holds an 83.1 per cent effective interest in CT Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:CRT.UN), which acquired a majority of the company's real estate. CT REIT's initial public offering last fall raised $303 million.

Canadian Tire has over 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets across the country, including various banners under FGL Sports, such as Hockey Experts, Sports Experts, National Sports, Intersport and Atmosphere.

Shares in Canadian Tire climbed $3 or 3.17 per cent to $97.75 in mid-morning trading Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Canadian Press

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