Alimentation Couche-Tard today (14 July) posted a 34.1% jump in annual net earnings, boosted by “interesting” fuel margins.

For fiscal 2009, the Canadian convenience store operator said net earnings rose to US$253.9m, or $1.29 per share, up from $189.2m, or $0.92 per share the previous year.

Commenting on the result, president and CEO Alain Bouchard said the company was “satisfied” given the economic situation.

“Our performance most certainly reflects the interesting margins on motor fuel sales over a portion of the last fiscal year. However, we keep ourselves in check and understand that such a windfall may not present itself during the coming year.”

Bouchard said that Couche-Tard would continue to tackle the challenging operating environment in North America in the coming year and anticipates continued growth despite a normalisation of fuel margins.

Raymond Pare, VP and CFO, added that although the economic situation remains “quite difficult” the company is “observing encouraging signs”.

Couche-Tard has generated an average return on investment of 18.3% over the last three years. However, the company gained momentum in fiscal 2009, with a return on investment of 19.4%.

“We are therefore in a good position and will be working hard to maintain and even improve our situation as well as that of our partners,” Pare added.

During the 12 months to 26 April, Couche-Tard increased its number of stores from 5,119 to 5,443.