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Saputo books higher Q1 profit but expects tough year

Canada’s largest dairy producer, Saputo Inc., reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings on Tuesday but warned of a tough year ahead.

The company said it expects the dairy market to be challenging for the remainder of its fiscal year 2014, begun April 1.

For its fiscal first quarter, net income rose 12.2 per cent to $136.7 million (69 cents a share) from $121.8 million (60 cents) a year earlier.

Revenue increased 28 per cent to $2.174 billion.

Analysts were expecting 73 cents per share on revenue of $2.132 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Montreal-based company raised its quarterly dividend by 9.5 per cent, to 23 cents per share from 21 cents.

Saputo is among the top three cheese producers in the U.S. and is the second-largest North American dairy company, after acquiring U.S.-based Morningstar Foods in January.

The addition of Morningstar, renamed Saputo Dairy Foods USA, boosted revenue in the latest quarter and added to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, the company said. — Reuters

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