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N.D. tops fatalities list

WILLISTON, N.D. -- The largest labour federation in the United States says North Dakota continues to have the highest worker death rate in the U.S., with 17.7 fatalities per 100,000 employees in 2012.

The data comes from an AFL-CIO report slated to be released next week. The 2012 rate is a dramatic increase from the seven deaths per 100,000 workers recorded in 2007, before the state's oil and economic boom took off.

North Dakota also had the highest worker fatality rate in the nation in 2011. There were 12.4 deaths per 100,000 employees that year. The national worker fatality rate was 3.5 deaths per 100,000 employees in 2011.


Market tight: Loblaw

 

Competition in the Canadian grocery industry has reached a "historically high" level that is likely to remain unabated in the foreseeable future, Loblaw Companies Ltd. said Wednesday as the country's largest supermarket chain reported lower first-quarter net earnings but easily beat expectations on adjusted profit.

"Looking ahead, in our core grocery operations, we see very little relief from the intensely competitive environment in which we operate," Loblaw president Vicente Trius said in a conference call with analysts.

Trius said Loblaw is looking to the rest of 2014 "with caution" as it takes into account a number of headwinds, including higher gasoline prices, a lower loonie and an increase in the minimum wage in Ontario, not to mention the deflationary pressure from prescription-drug reforms.

Loblaw reported a 40 per cent drop in net earnings in its first quarter, mainly due to financing charges. Net earnings came in at $103 million or 37 cents per share, compared with $171 million or 61 cents per share in the same quarter of 2013.

However, adjusted net profits increased to $139 million or 49 cents a share in the first quarter, a 3.7 per cent hike from $134 million or 48 cents a share in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected net income of $122 million, or 46 cents a share on $7.32 billion of revenue, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Slightly higher revenue in its financial services division, President's Choice Financial, helped boost revenue 1.2 per cent to $7.29 billion in the three-month period ended March 22. This compared with $7.2 billion in the same quarter in 2013.

The earnings gave the grocer confidence to increase its quarterly dividend by about 2.1 per cent to 24.5 cents per common share.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Loblaw shares closed up $1.85 or 4.04 per cent at $47.65 Wednesday.

 

-- from the wire services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 1, 2014 B6

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