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ANKENY, Iowa -- Casey's General Stores Inc., operator of more than 1,400 convenience stores based here, saw record earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, which ended July 31, 2007. Net earnings for the company reached $29.7 million, soaring above the $16.9 million seen in the year-ago quarter. In addition, total sales increased 16.8 percent to $1.3 billion, and gross profit rose 29.5 percent to $188.2 million.
"The record first quarter gave us a solid foundation for meeting our annual performance goals," president and CEO Robert J. Myers said in a statement.
In the company's gasoline segment, same-store gallons sold were up 0.3 percent compared with a 2.9-percent decrease for the same quarter a year ago, the company stated. The average margin reached a quarterly high of 15.8 cents per gallon, compared to 9.8 cents in the first quarter of 2007.
"The unusually high margin was due to the combination of a more stable retail pricing environment and a declining trend in wholesale costs," Myers said. "Gallons sold were held in check by higher retail prices, especially in the first half of the quarter. Fortunately, the gasoline prices did not slow our inside sales."
Inside stores, grocery and other merchandise same-store sales jumped 9.1 percent, vs. the 2.3-percent increase seen in the first quarter 2007, the company stated. "We achieved strong sales throughout the category, and we are particularly pleased with the gross profit contribution in the cigarette and beverage segments," Myers said.
Meanwhile, in the prepared food and fountain segment, same-store sales climbed 9.5 percent, the same percent increase as the comparable quarter, according to the company.
"Having products in the warmers at the right time continues to pay off," Myers added. "We're still experiencing significant gains in fountain sales, and on July 1, we made a series of price increases -- most significantly for our made-from-scratch pizza."
Concerning expansion plans, Casey's General expects to acquire 50 stores and build 10 by the end of fiscal 2008. While the company did not complete any construction during the first quarter, it did acquire two locations, the company stated.
"Although we purchased fewer stores than we anticipated, we remain optimistic about the future and will continue disciplined pursuit of our acquisition goal," Myers said. "As of July 31, we had signed five additional purchase agreements, and we expect ample buying opportunities in the coming months."