Loblaw Companies Limited Executive Chairman Galen Weston Jr., right, poses with and his father Galen Weston Sr., at the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto on Wednesday, May 5, 2010. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

George Weston nudges quarterly dividend higher, reports first-quarter loss

TORONTO — George Weston Ltd. nudged its dividend higher as it reported a loss in its latest quarter due to an accounting charge related to its holdings in the Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust.

The company, which also operates Weston Foods, including bakery operations in Canada and the U.S., and holds a controlling stake in Loblaw Companies Ltd., says it will pay a quarterly dividend of 52.5 cents per share, up from 51.5 cents.

The increased payment to shareholders came as George Weston reported a net loss attributable to common shareholders of $488 million or $3.18 per share due to a $601-million one-time charge related to a significant unit price increase at Choice Properties. The loss compared with a profit of $180 million or $1.40 per share in the same period in 2018.

Sales totalled $11.17 billion, up from $10.74 billion.

On an adjusted basis, George Weston says it earned $201 million or $1.30 per share for 12-week period ended March 23 compared with an adjusted profit of $178 million or $1.38 per share a year earlier when the company had fewer shares outstanding.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.34 per share and revenue of $11.22 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Galen G. Weston, chairman and chief executive of the company, said its three businesses in retail, real estate and consumer goods performed well in the first quarter.

“Loblaw delivered continued strong operational performance, gaining traction on its key priorities and accelerating investments,” he said in a statement. “Choice Properties delivered solid financial and operational results. Weston Foods delivered results in line with our expectations as the business continues to stabilize.”

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