U.S. Expansion Boosts ACT

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U.S. Expansion Boosts ACT

LAVAL, Quebec -- A push into the United States by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (ACT), Canada's largest convenience store chain, helped it post sharply higher profit and sales.

Couche-Tard also announced it would split its shares 2 for 1 as of July 19 to increase the liquidity of its stock, which has enjoyed a steady climb over the past year, the company reported.

ACT said it earned $5.8 million, or 31 cents a share, in its fourth quarter, ended April 28, up from $4.13 million, or 11 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Sales improved to $866.2 million from $571.3 million, the company said in a statement.

The Laval, Quebec-based chain operates approximately 2,000 stores in Canada and the United States and plans to open about 60 new stores before the end of next April. ACT also said it would continue to expand by buying rivals until its network in the U.S. Midwest reaches about 1,000 stores.

The company has currently 247 U.S. stores, to which about 450 stores previously owned by bankrupt Dairy Mart should be added in the coming months.

"Last year's acquisitions immediately yielded outstanding benefits, as reflected by our strong growth in sales and net earnings, while also positioning us solidly in the Midwest where we continue to expand," chief executive Alain Bouchard said in a release.