Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Jean Coutu Group Rises; Retailer Expects Sales Growth

From Bloomberg:
Jean Coutu Group Inc., the Canadian pharmacy chain that became Rite Aid Corp.'s biggest shareholder in 2007, rose 2 percent in Toronto trading after the retailer said sales growth should improve later this year.

Jean Coutu said today the first-quarter net loss widened to C$20.2 million ($19.8 million), or 8 cents a share, in the three months through May 31, mostly from its 30 percent Rite Aid stake that must be reported under Canadian accounting rules. The U.S. chain posted four straight quarters without profit.

The company sees earnings growth coming from new outlets in Quebec and the Rite Aid stake as the third-largest U.S. drugstore chain finishes integrating Eckerd and Brooks stores obtained from Jean Coutu. Sales gains from renovated sites will kick in later this year, Chief Executive Officer Francois Coutu said today.

``They're very well positioned for growth here,'' Airan Friedman, an analyst with Accountability Research Corp., said in a telephone interview. ``It's a defensive name, and it's where you want to be in the economic climate that we're in.'' ...more

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