Metro Inc hikes dividend as first quarter profit jumps 134

MONTREAL — Metro Inc. said Tuesday its quarterly dividend will be going up 16.7% amid expectations that the grocery company is well-positioned to continue strong growth in the coming quarters.The Montreal-based company says its net income in the first quarter ended Dec. 20 was up 13.4% from a year ago, rising to $112.5 million from $99.2 million a year earlier.Metro’s adjusted earnings were up 21.6% to $1.35 per share, four cents above analyst estimates from Thomson Reuters.Sales totalled $2.84 billion, up 5.2% from $2.7 billion or 5.2% from a year earlier.The company’s chief executive says he’s confident Metro is well-positioned to continue growth over the coming quarters.Sobeys owner Empire’s profit rises as Safeway buy helps boost same-store salesHow Canadian consumer stocks are benefiting from oil prices“Building on the momentum of the fourth quarter of 2014, our sales growth was strong and we are pleased with our first quarter results,” Metro CEO and president Eric  La Fleche said in a statement.“Our merchandising strategies and investments in our retail network are well received by our customers and we are confident that we are well-positioned to continue to grow over the coming quarters.”The financial report was released before Metro’s annual shareholders meeting in Montreal.Metro also announced a three-for-one stock split, which will result in shareholders of record getting two additional shares for each share they own at Feb. 6. The split is expected to take effect Feb. 11.Metro says it wiill increase its dividend with the March 16 payout to shareholders of record as of Feb. 6. Prior to the split, the quarterly dividend will rise by five cents to 35 cents per share. On a split-adjusted basis, the dividend will got to 11.7 cents per share after Feb. 18.