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    Analyst: The Pantry Will be Solid in 2008

    Despite a lacking 2007, the company is predicted to meet expectations this year.

    NEW YORK -- Although convenience chain The Pantry Inc. struggled through a tough year in 2007, analyst Karen Short of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey predicted the retailer will have a better year in 2008, due to a weak consumer environment and the rollout of ethanol in the Southeast, The Associated Press reported.

    In a note to investors cited by the AP, she noted that 2007 was a "tough year," but is "cautiously optimistic that 2008 will be much more solid."
    In 2007, earnings at The Pantry fell 70 percent despite a revenue gain of 16 percent.

    This year, "reasonably low and achievable" expectations for The Pantry's first quarter and full year earnings encouraged Short's prediction, the report stated. In addition, offering ethanol in the southeast market at its gas stations could help the chain's margins, she added in the note.
    "In a weak consumer environment, consumers will continue to drive, smoke, drink and eat chocolate," she added.

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