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Canadian grocery retailer Loblaw has reported higher quarterly earnings, helped by a 12.9% increase in sales.

The company posted net earnings of C$294m (US$224.2m), or $1.07 per share, for the fourth quarter, compared to $265m, or 96 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Fourth-quarter sales rose to $6.4bn from $5.6bn in the same period of the previous year, including an 8% positive impact from the additional week in the 2003 quarter.

Same-store sales rose 3.3% on an equivalent 13 week basis. The company opened 24 new corporate and franchised stores during the quarter and closed 20 stores.