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    Casey's General on the Up and Up

    Casey's General Stores Inc. reports a record fiscal year; success attributed to point of sale and new items

    ANKENY, Iowa – Casey's General Stores Inc. reported record share prices Wednesday for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2006. According to chairman and CEO Ronald M. Lamb, earnings reached an all-time high of $1.25 per share, sales were up 25 percent and profit rose 15 percent.

    In-store sales for grocery and other merchandise increased store profits, the company said. "We outperformed the sales and margin goal for the year by capitalizing on increased store traffic brought in by the lottery and enhancing our point-of-sale technology," said Lamb. Same-store sales rose 5.7 percent, with an average margin of 31.9 percent for the fiscal year.

    Casey's prepared food and fountain drinks saw an increase of 7.4 percent in sales with an average margin of 63 percent, according to Lamb. "This category was outstanding," he said. Lamb attributes the increases to valuable new products and using POS data to coordinate menu items with customers' tastes and manage inventory. To amplify this category's success for 2007, Lamb plans to increase its fountain selections.

    The gasoline market, Lamb said, "surpassed our expectations for the year. Our average margin for fiscal 2006 was 11.5 cents per gallon, reflecting the market volatility that affected the entire industry." Same-store gallons sold were up 4.4 percent for the year, which surpassed the company's goal of an increase of 2 percent.

    Casey's operating expenses also rose 10.6 percent, but stayed under the gross profit increase of 15.2 percent. "The goal was challenging every quarter all year long as bank fees continually increased along with the retail price of gasoline," Lamb said.

    Casey's also built 15 new stores in fiscal 2006, acquired 49 from Gas 'N Shop and an additional 18 stores elsewhere, and had plans for six more stores as of April 30. The company also expanded its distribution center, allowing it to supply 1,000 more stores.

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