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Boyd raises payouts

BOYD Group Income Fund says it's raising monthly distributions to unitholders by four per cent, starting this month.

The new rate will be 3.9 cents per unit, per month, up from 3.75 cents per unit.

The Winnipeg fund, which owns auto body repair shops across North America, announced the increase along with a mixed third-quarter financial report that showed higher revenue but flat internal growth and lower profit.

The quarter included a 12.1 per cent increase in overall revenue, which rose to $109.1 million from $97.3 million in the third quarter of 2011.

Most of the increase came from the addition of 13 locations during the first nine months of this year. Same-store sales at locations open at least a year fell by 0.8 per cent, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations.

Net income also fell to $1.5 million, or 12 cents per unit, from $6.5 million, or 22 cents per unit. Over the past year, the number of units increased to just over 12.5 million from just under 11 million.

Adjusted net income performed better, increasing to $3.3 million or three per cent of sales from $2.7 million or 2.8 per cent of sales in the third quarter of 2011.

However, adjusted distributable cash fell to $1.9 million, from $5.4 million in the third quarter of 2011, as higher acquisition costs, finance costs, income taxes and payments reduced cash from operations.

Home sales steady

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- The latest real estate outlook from RE/MAX says Canadian home sales increased or held steady in much of the country this year despite tighter financing and economic uncertainty abroad.

The trend is expected to continue, with home-buying activity propped up by low interest rates and an improved economic picture in 2013.

The report found the number of homes sold is expected to match or exceed 2011 levels, led by strong activity in Calgary and other western centres.

It said Winnipeg is one of the cities that's expected to match last year's sales total, with about 12,300 units changing hands. And sales are also expected to remain at that level in 2013.

Winnipeg's average selling price continues to rise, it said. It's projected to climb by five per cent to $254,000 this year, and by a further three per cent to $261,600 in 2013.

Nationally, RE/MAX says an estimated 454,000 homes will have changed hands in 2012, one per cent short of the 2011 level.

Canadian home sales in 2013 are expected to almost mirror this year's performance, holding steady at 454,000 units.

The average price of a Canadian home is expected to remain stable at $364,000 in 2012 -- on par with 2011 -- then appreciate nominally in 2013, rising one per cent to an average of $366,500.

Call for safer vehicles

WASHINGTON -- U.S. accident investigators say the government should require auto manufacturers to include the latest collision-prevention technologies as standard equipment on all new cars and trucks.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the requirement could reduce fatal highway accidents by more than half.

The technologies include lane departure warning, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and electronic stability control. These are available on many cars and trucks, although some are limited primarily to higher- end models.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says the technologies could add several thousand dollars to the cost of a new car. But safety advocates say cost per vehicle would come down if the technology became standard equipment.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2012 B8

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