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Nov 7, 2019

Canadian Tire ready for 'whoever comes at us' amid e-commerce push: CFO

Canadian Tire CFO on pursuing 'smaller-footprint' opportunities as part of e-commerce strategy

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Canadian Tire Corp.’s chief financial officer is welcoming the competition from online retailers like Amazon.com Inc.

“I always say the best thing that happened to Canadian Tire was Walmart, second-best thing was Target. I firmly believe that this change that we’re undergoing right now with a new way of doing business will be the next best thing for Canadian Tire over the next couple years,” Canadian Tire CFO Dean McCann told BNN Bloomberg in a Thursday interview.

McCann said Canadian Tire’s bricks-and-mortar base gives it an advantage in Canada.

“Canadian Tire retail is a little different, and we’ve got a 500-store network with forward-deployed inventory right across the country,” he said. “So, that last mile effect, if you will, that’s the costly part... I think we’ve got an advantage with respect to that.”

He also said that the versatility in pick-up/delivery options allows the company to better cater to the needs of its customers.

“There are things that you want, you need it now. There are things that a customer is willing to wait for… Or you can come to the store, click-and-collect, and pick it up there. We’ll have it ready for you,” he said.

“We’re well positioned to take whoever comes at us.”

The company’s shares rose Thursday as the company announced it plans to cut more than $200 million in annual costs by 2022.

The more commonly traded class-A shares in the company rose $5.10, or 3.53 per cent, to $149.29 in early afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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The company’s shares have recovered from the sudden dip the stock experienced in August when famed U.S. short-seller Steve Eisman revealed he bet against the Canadian retailer. Eisman is best known for his billion-dollar bet against the U.S. housing market made famous in the book and film The Big Short.

The portfolio manager at New York based Neuberger Berman told BNN Bloomberg at the time he expected Canadian Tire would suffer as a result of competition from Amazon as well as potential weakness in its credit card portfolio.

The rise came as the company released its third-quarter financial earnings and announced an operational efficiency program that targets more than $200 million in annualized savings by 2022.

"We expect the market will adopt a 'wait and see' attitude before incorporating (the cost-savings initiative) into earnings forecasts," wrote Irene Nattel, an RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst, in a note.

However, with "solid" third-quarter financial results and plans for future growth, RBC views Canadian Tire's valuation "as ripe for re-rating," she said, with key catalysts being solid same-store sales and revenue performance, as well as the realization of cost reductions.

The cost-cutting program's focus areas include eliminating duplicate systems and processes, decommissioning legacy infrastructure and continuing to reduce internal and external expenses.



Management expects to record one-time costs for items like severance, retraining and real estate related closure costs, the company said.

In the third quarter, it recorded $19.8 million for severance, store closure and other related expenses, it said, while on a year to date basis it has recorded $27.9 million.

The cost-cutting measures were announced as the company also said it would raise its quarterly dividend for the eleventh time in a decade.

Canadian Tire will now pay a quarterly dividend of $1.1375 per share, an increase of 10 cents.

The retailer reported a profit attributable to shareholders of $197.2 million or $3.20 per diluted share for its third quarter. That compared with a profit attributable to shareholders of $203.8 million or $3.15 per diluted share in the same quarter last year when the company had more shares outstanding.

Canadian Tire's normalized earnings per share amounted to $3.46 per diluted share for the quarter, down from $3.47 per diluted share a year ago, due to an accounting changes at its financial services business.

Revenue totalled $3.64 billion, up from $3.63 billion a year ago.

Comparable sales at Canadian Tire stores were up 2.4 per cent, while SportChek comparable sales were up 4.6 per cent. Mark's comparable sales increased 1.2 per cent.

With files from The Canadian Press