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During an earnings conference call this morning, Alon USA Energy CEO Paul Eisman said he saw the newly branded store in Midland, Texas, last week.
"The store looks great," he reported.
This conversion is the first step in changing all 302 FINA-branded stores to the ALON brand. As CSNews Online reported in November, the move comes more than three years after Alon Brands Inc. was chartered as a freestanding company and charged with revitalizing refiner Alon USA Energy's network of nearly 1,000 branded gasoline locations.
"The move to ALON stores opens up a lot of opportunities for us," Eisman said during today’s conference call. "Now, we are not tied to a specific geographic region."
Eisman added that he was quite pleased with the fiscal fourth quarter earnings for Alon USA Energy's retail division. That segment of the business posted net sales of nearly $354 million, compared to $291 million during the company's 2010 fourth quarter. For the entire year, Alon's retail sales came in at $1.43 billion vs. $1.04 billion for 2010.
"Despite a challenging environment, our retail segment continues to perform extremely well," Eisman said. "Fuel sales were up 9 percent compared to [the same quarter] last year."
Eisman noted that he expects gasoline demand to decline in the near future, but in the meantime, Alon continues to earn good fuel margins.
Companywide, Alon USA Energy suffered a net loss of $12.9 million in its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31. However, that was only about half of the $25.1 million the company lost in its 2010 fiscal fourth quarter.
The company cited weak refining margins for the net loss in its latest quarter.
"The fourth quarter was tough for us, as it was for a lot of our peers," said Eisman. "But despite this, we had a record year … We are optimistic about the future for the company."