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Auto parts distributor Uni-Select Inc. reported a 16-per-cent increase in net earnings to $11.2-million (U.S.) in the first quarter as sales increased on acquisition and organic growth.

The Quebec-based company earned 52 cents per share in the period ended March 31, compared with 45 cents a year earlier when profits were $9.7-million.

Revenues increased 13.6 per cent to $450.7-million from $396.8-million in the prior year. The company reports in U.S. dollars.

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Uni-Select said the higher sales stemmed from the addition of FinishMaster's operations and store acquisitions in Florida, combined with 4.2-per-cent organic growth.

Sales in Canada increased to $115.7-million, while 5.2-per-cent organic growth in the U.S. drove segment sales to $335-million.

Adjusted pre-tax operating margins improved from better buying conditions and management of selling prices.

Chief executive Richard Roy the acquisitions and a "satisfactory" increase in organic sales positively contributed to its growth.

"During the next quarters, our focus will remain on the increased efficiency of our operations with the objectives to continue delivering improved results and reduce our debt to the level that our investors and shareholders are accustomed to," he said in a news release.

Uni-Select is a major distributor of replacement parts, equipment, tools and accessories for motor vehicles in North America. With 6,600 employees, its network includes more than 2,500 independent jobbers and services more than 3,500 points of sale in North America.

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