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Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard has reported an unexpected 38% fall in quarterly profit, due to lower petrol margins.

Couche-Tard posted profit of C$8.8m (US$6.6m), or 9 cents per share, for the third quarter to 1 February, compared to $14.1m, or 16 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts had been expecting a 50% rise in quarterly profits, boosted by the company’s December acquisition of 1,660 Circle K stores, reported Reuters.

Chief executive Alain Bouchard said changes in fuel margins were part of normal business.

“It’s only a timing issue, there are ups and downs in gas margins,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“When the crude increases, we just can’t pass the increase to the market the same day. It take weeks and we suffer,” he added.  

The company said sales rose to $1.8bn from $1.1bn, helped by the Circle K acquisition.