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Couche-Tard's Fourth-Quarter Profits Almost Double

LAVAL, Quebec -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., now with 4,881 convenience stores in the United States and Canada, reported fourth-quarter profit that almost doubled to $21.1 million, reported the Canadian Press.

Earnings for the quarter ended April 25 amounted to 21 cents per share compared with $11.3 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier, the Laval-based company reported Tuesday.

Sales soared 180.6 percent to $2.29 billion, including $1.38 billion from the Circle K store chain in the United States.

Last October, Couche-Tard announced a $1.12-billion deal to acquire Circle K Corp. That firm, formerly owned by oil company ConocoPhillips, operates 1,663 corporate stores and 350 franchise outlets in 16 states, mostly in Arizona, Florida and other southern states.

Couche-Tard said the deal made the company the fourth-largest convenience store operator in North America.

For the full year, earnings rose to $79.5 million or 89 cents per share, from $66 million or 78 cents per share a year earlier. Annual sales were up 77 percent to $5.87 billion, including $2.02 billion from Circle K for the 130-day period from Dec. 18, 2003, to April 25, 2004.

"We are very pleased with how the integration of Circle K is progressing," CEO Alain Bouchard said in a release. "A number of key steps are already behind us, including the implementation of a decentralized operational structure with the necessary resources and expertise."

Coming changes include converting all of Couche-Tard's Midwest stores to the Circle K banner over the next 24 months.
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