Couche-Tard sees fuel sales bounce back

Couche-Tard Inc beat estimates for quarterly profit and revenue, helped by strong sales at the chain's fuel supply outlets following speedy vaccination drives and easing coronavirus curbs.

Revenue from its fuel business, which includes about 10,800 outlets across the United States, Europe and other countries, jumped 32% to $8.35 billion in the fourth quarter after falling by more than a third in the first three quarters.

Earlier this year, Couche-Tard announced that it has teamed up with a real estate advisory firm to coordinate the sale of 306 forecourt and convenience sites across the US and Canada.

"This strong quarter ended a remarkable year both financially and operationally, despite the persistent pressures of the pandemic on our customers, employees and supply partners," commented said Brian Hannasch, president and chief executive of Alimentation Couche–Tard.

"Across the global network, we made notable progress on our strategy of accelerating organic growth by expanding our fresh food offer, data-analytic capabilities, and our fuel procurement and transport capabilities.

We also reinvented and expanded our brands, making them increasingly more modern and recognisable at every part of the customer journey and facilitated the customer experience through expanded frictionless payment options."

Fuel volumes, however, were still below pre-pandemic levels due to work-from-home policies and renewed restrictions in some regions including Ontario and Quebec, Couche-Tard said.

The Canadian company's revenue from merchandise and services rose 15.2% to $3.72 billion, boosted by its move to sell fast-food items such as sandwiches, hot dogs and snacks at more stores.

Total revenue rose 26.3% to $12.24 billion in the fourth quarter ended 25 April, exceeding analysts' average estimate of $11.65 billion, according to Refinitiv-IBES data. On an adjusted basis, Couche-Tard earned 52 cents per share, well above an estimate of 42 cents.