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    Couche-Tard Profits Up

    The company reports a 24-percent increase in the second quarter.

    LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. recorded a 24-percent profit increase on an 18 per cent rise in sales for its second quarter, crediting American acquisitions and "solid internal growth," according to the Toronto Star.

    "We are all the more confident about achieving strong growth in 2003-2004 since we will reap significant benefits from the Circle K acquisition for about four months of the current fiscal year," said Alain Bouchard, chairman, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard.

    After the quarter's end, Couche-Tard announced an $830-million (U.S.) agreement to acquire 1,663 corporate stores and 636 franchised outlets in the southern United States from Circle K Corp. This acquisition will make Couche-Tard the fourth-largest convenience retailer in North America with 4,879 stores, reported the Star.

    The Quebec-based convenience-store operator reported earnings in its second quarter were $26 million, 30 cents per share, up from $21 million, 24 cents per share, in the year-ago period, according to the report, and the rise in the Canadian dollar trimmed profits by $1 million, or a penny per share, the company said.

    Sales rose to $952.2 million from $806.5 million, and Couche-Tard attributed about 79 percent of growth to operations in the Midwest, primarily the 404 Dairy Mart and 43 Clark stores acquired in the past year, combined with an increase in gasoline prices in the U.S. market, according to the Star.

    "In our other markets, all our improvement and development plans are on track and on schedule, including the setting-up of new technologies to facilitate management by product category, the implementation of our differentiation concept in at least 100 stores during the second half of this year, and the development of our quick-service offering," said Bouchard.

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