realcanadiansuperstore.jpg Loblaw Cos.
The Real Canadian Superstore chain is one of Loblaw's discount banners.

Loblaw weathers unfavorable conditions in first quarter

Net earnings climb as calendar, deflation nip comps

Despite losing both New Year’s and Easter to other quarters and withstanding 3.9% food deflation, Loblaw Cos. finished the first quarter with a slight increase in adjusted diluted net earnings.

Loblaw saw earnings per share for the period, which ended March 25, climb 9.8% to 90 cents after posting 82 cents in the first segment of 2016.

Net earnings available climbed by $37 million, landing on $230 million. The rise represents a 19.2% improvement compared with the first quarter of 2016.

“We are pleased with our performance in the first quarter of 2017,” chairman and CEO Galen G. Weston said during Wednesday’s conference call. “In a period of significant deflation, intense competition and continued pressures from health care reform, we delivered another solid quarter.”

Revenue rose by $20 million, or 0.2%, compared with the first quarter of 2016 and finished at $10.4 billion (Canadian).

On the other hand, same-store food retail sales declined 2.1%. The company cited the same deflationary environment that began to brew in the fourth quarter of 2016 as the driver of the downturn. In 2016’s opening quarter, food retail comps improved by 2.6%.

These figures exclude the impact of gas.

Over the past 12 months, 28 food and drug stores were opened, while another 29 food and drug stores were closed.

The company also repurchased 3.4 million common shares at a cost of $240 million this quarter.

Loblaw, based in Brampton, Ontario, wields a network of corporate and independently operated stores across Canada.

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