The Daily Chase: Couche-Tard to buy TotalEnergies; Empire earnings dragged down by cyberattack

It’s shaping up to be another volatile day in the equity markets after yesterday’s eventful session. Futures south of the border were initially in the green this morning before those gains evaporated through the early hours of the morning as investors continue to assess the turmoil in the global banking sector. This morning, there are a few catalysts – shares of U.S. regional banks are largely in the red in the premarket after Bloomberg News reported First Republic is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale (shares of the bank are down about 26 per cent at present.) And, after Credit Suisse stoked some initial optimism throughout the sector over in Europe by securing a US$54-billion lifeline from the Swiss National Bank. That optimism seems to be fading, with an index of European bank stocks now essentially unchanged after rising as much as four per cent (worth noting shares of Credit Suisse, while still up 20 per cent, halved earlier gains.) In all, it’s shaping up to be an interesting day as investors parse through all the details.


Convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard is making a big splash across the pond, striking a deal to buy almost 2,200 gas stations from TotalEnergies for €3.1B in cash. The deal nets Couche-Tard 100 per cent of TotalEnergies retail assets in Germany and the Netherlands, along with a 60 per cent controlling interest in Total’s Belgium and Luxembourg units. Now, this is old hat for Couche-Tard, which operates about 2,800 locations in Europe already (mostly in Scandinavia and the Baltics.) It’s also the company’s first big swing at a deal on the continent after its failed pursuit of French retailer Carrefour two years ago.  


Call it a miss on the top and bottom lines over at Sobeys’ parent company Empire Co. in its fiscal third quarter. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.64 (against an estimate of $0.67) and revenue came in just shy of estimates in the quarter. That cybersecurity incident late last year took a toll to the tune of $39 million in the quarter – more than the $25 million hit estimated back in December – as it threw a wrench in procurement, leaving some products unavailable. On the food price inflation front, which has been a flashpoint with Canadian shoppers, the company says it’s difficult to know how long those pressures will persist. It also pointed to continued labour shortages as a price pressure as we head forward.



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