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Supermarket chain Metro reports Q2 profit of $96.9 million, sales rise 1.7%

MONTREAL - Supermarket chain Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU) reports it had $96.9 million in net earnings in the second quarter ended March 15, down 73.3 per cent from an unusually high profit in the same quarter of 2013.

Last year's second quarter had $362.7 million of net income, which included a gain from the sale of Metro's investment in Alimentation Couche-Tard as (TSX:ATD.B).

Excluding certain items, Metro's latest results were slightly above last year's second-quarter adjusted net earnings, which were $96.4 million.

Adjusted earnings from continuing operations in the latest quarter improved to $1.07 per share from 98 cents per share last year. Overall sales were up 1.7 per cent year-year, rising to $2.55 billion from $2.51 billion.

The company's adjusted earnings were five cents per share above analyst estimates after excluding unusual items.

Metro faces heightened competition, particularly in Ontario, from supermarket rivals such as Loblaws (TSX:L) and Sobeys (TSX:EMP), while its discount banner Food Basics is fending off expansion by Walmart (NYSE:TGT) and the first wave of openings by U.S. retailer Target.

The grocery chain also faces pressure to expand its reach following recent deals by Loblaw to purchase Shoppers Drug Mart (TSX:SC) and Sobeys to buy Safeway Canada based in Western Canada.

Metro is Quebec's leading grocery chain with a nearly 34 per cent market share. It has more than 65,000 employees in Quebec and Ontario, with more than 600 food stores under several banners including Metro, Metro Plus, GP,

Super C and Food Basics, as well as over 250 drugstores under the Brunet, Brunet Plus, Clini Plus, The Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners.

Metro had been expected to have $1.02 per share of adjusted net income with $2.5 billion of revenue, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

The Canadian Press

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