STELLARTON, N.S. - Empire Company Ltd. (TSX:EMP.A), a company best known as operator of the Sobeys supermarket chain, is reporting a 19.5 per cent increase in fiscal second-quarter profits.

Nova Scotia-based Empire reported Thursday that net income, net of minority interest, was $93.3 million or $1.37 per share in the 13 weeks ended Nov. 3.

That compared with net income of $78.1 million or $1.15 per share in the second quarter last year.

Consolidated revenue was $4.4 billion, up $367.8 million or 9.1 per cent from $4.04 billion in the comparable 2011 period. Excluding the impact of the acquisition of 236 retail gas locations and related convenience store operations, revenue was up 2.7 per cent.

Adjusted net earnings, net of minority interest, were $85.7 million or $1.26 per share, compared with $74.9 million or $1.10 per share in the second quarter last year, a 14.4 per cent increase.

"During the second quarter we continued to execute on our strategic initiatives, which resulted in profitable growth despite a highly competitive marketplace," said president and CEO Paul Sobey.

"We remain committed to further enhancing the shopping experience of our customers and improving our cost structure and productivity."

Same-store sales at Sobeys increased 1.3 per cent, while overall it contributed $4.34 billion of revenues compared with $3.98 billion in the second quarter last year, including $257 million related to retail gasoline and convenience story operations.

Investments and other operations' sales in the second quarter contributed $61.8 million versus $55.3 million in the second quarter last year. The increase of $6.5 million or 11.8 per cent was primarily driven by higher sales at wholly-owned Empire Theatres.

Empire, whose core businesses includes food retailing and related real estate, has some $6.9 billion in assets and annual sales of more than $116 billion. The company and its subsidiaries directly employ some 47,000 people.

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