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A person walks past a Couche-Tard in Montreal on May 21, 2020.Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. says its net profit surged 44 per cent in its latest quarter despite a big drop in fuel sales at its convenience stores because of COVID-19.

The Quebec-based retailer that operates the Circle K brand says it earned US$771.1-million or 70 cents a diluted share in its first quarter, up from US$538.8-million or 48 cents a share a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings attributable to shareholders came in at 71 cent a share, up from 40 cents a share forecast by analysts, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Revenues for the three months ended July 19 decreased 31.4 per cent to US$9.71-billion, compared with US$14.2-billion a year earlier and below forecasts of US$10.55-billion.

The retailer said its in-store sales benefited from shoppers buying more, while fuel sales were hurt by lower demand and prices, partly offset by strong fuel margins.

Same-store fuel volume decreased 21.2 per cent in the United States, 25.6 per cent in Canada and 12.4 per cent in Europe.

“We delivered another solid quarter in the face of a challenging and unprecedented macroeconomic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” chief financial officer Claude Tessier stated.

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