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    Circle K Helps Couche-Tard Triple Profit

    Quarterly earnings up $41.5 million over last year.

    MONTREAL -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. saw its profit boom continue this spring as net earnings soared to $66.4 million, up from $22.9 million a year earlier, reported the Canadian Press.

    Earnings growth was driven by a powerful gasoline gross margin in the United States, which averaged 16.24 cents per gallon, the company said.

    Couche-Tard sales rocketed to $2.49 billion, up from $881 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Of that total, $1.42 billion came from Circle K. The company said 76.3 percent of its sales were in the United States, compared with 40.6 percent a year ago. Couche-Tard also said it will continue with plans to expand by about 70 stores in the rest of the year and expand its network of in-store fast food restaurants by 75.

    "We are very pleased with our first-quarter results in both our Canadian and U.S. markets, as well as with how efficiently Circle K's integration is going," said president and CEO Alain Bouchard. "We also remain on the lookout for expansion opportunities in our various U.S. networks."

    Couche-Tard operates 4,881 convenience stores in North America, following the $1.12-billion acquisition late last year of Circle K Corp. with 1,663 corporate stores and 350 franchise outlets in 16 American states.

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