Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc's quarterly earnings beat estimates, as customers spent more on groceries at its stores, while a fall in fuel prices boosted profit margins at its gas stations.
Increased fears of the novel coronavirus led people to make fewer trips to its stores, consolidate their shopping and opt for home-delivery and curbside pickups.
Revenue from Couche-Tard's merchandise and services unit that sells food products and everyday essentials rose 7% to $3.86 billion in the first quarter, with gross profit rising 7.5%.
Net income attributable to the company rose 44.2% to $777.1 million, or an adjusted 71 cents per share, in the first quarter ended July 19, beating analysts' estimates of 40 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Gross profits in the company's fuel business rose 13.1% due to lower oil prices.
However, a coronavirus-led slump in fuel demand brought Couche-Tard's total revenue down 31.4% to $9.71 billion.
The company said demand was beginning to recover, especially in Europe where travel patterns were normalising.
"We delivered another solid quarter in the face of a challenging and unprecedented macroeconomic environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," commented Claude Tessier, chief financial officer.
"Our first quarter performance once again demonstrated the resilience of our agile business model, both from a financial and an operational standpoint. Throughout the quarter, we remained focused on maximising cash flows, by containing costs and reducing non-critical capital expenditures to best navigate the turbulence and emerge from the crisis in a position of strength."