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(Simon Hayter/Simon Hayter for The Globe and Mail)
(Simon Hayter/Simon Hayter for The Globe and Mail)

Sobey's owner boosts dividend Add to ...

Sobey's grocery store chain owner Empire Company Ltd. reported Friday a fourth-quarter profit of $73.5-million, up from a year-ago $62.1-million, and announced it will hike its quarterly to 20 cents per share from 18.5 cents.

The company said its net earnings amounted to $1.07 per share, up from 94 cents per share in the prior-year period. Revenue rose 3.4 per cent to $3.84-billion. Same-store sales at Sobeys edged up 0.5 per cent.

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"Empire's operating earnings and enterprise value continued to strengthen in our fourth quarter reflecting the continued solid performance of our food retailing and real estate businesses," president and CEO Paul Sobey said in a statement.

"We were particularly pleased with the strong fourth-quarter performance from our residential real estate operations. Consistent with our growth and our confidence in the strength of our businesses, we are pleased to announce an increase in Empire's dividend per share, from 74 cents annually to 80 cents annually."

Real estate revenue in the fourth quarter was $32.8-million, up substantially from $11.7-million in the same period a year earlier.

For the full year, Empire said its earnings came in at $301.9-million or $4.40 per share, compared to $264.7-million or $4.02 per share in 2009. Revenue rose 3.3 per cent to $15.52-billion.

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