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    Casey's Profit Continues Upward Trend

    Gas margins beat goal, and inside sales remain strong.

    ANKENY, Iowa -- Convenience store operator Casey's General Stores Inc. shined in the third quarter of fiscal 2008, seeing overall gross profit increase 14.7 percent to $159.9 million, the company stated.

    "We performed very well in the third quarter," Casey's president and CEO Robert J. Myers said in a statement. "Earnings per share were driven by higher-than-goal gas margins and strong results from inside sales."

    While Casey's General saw same-store gas gallons sold decrease 3.9 percent for the quarter, due to tough comparatives and near-record retail prices, the chain achieved an average gasoline margin of 13.5 cents per gallon, beating the 10.7 cents per gallon goal, according to the company.

    Myers linked the decrease in same-store sales to a rapid increase in retail prices, and said, "Our customer counts remained positive despite the rise in prices at the pump, but customers purchased fewer gallons per visit."

    Inside stores, Casey's General increased same-store sales for the 16th consecutive quarter, with a 5.4 percent jump in the third quarter, said Myers. Total sales for the quarter increased 6.5 percent, helped by high performance in the prepared food and fountain segments, according to the company.

    "[Prepared food and fountain's] excellent performance once again proves the value of applying point-of-sale data and refining our marketing strategies," said Myers.

    On the expansion front, Casey's General has a goal to acquire 50 stores and build 10 new stores by April 30, 2008. As of the quarter end on Jan. 31, 2008, the company acquired six stores and had not built any new stores.

    "The acquisition environment continues to be challenging and it appears unlikely we will achieve this goal," said Myers. "We believe high gasoline margins in the Midwest are the primary reason for a disparity between buyer and seller expectations. We currently have written agreements to acquire nine stores and expect most of those purchases to be completed before fiscal year-end."

    The company also announced changes to its board, following the death of member John R. Fitzgibbon, who passed away on March 2. Fitzgibbon was a member of the company's board of directors for the past 25 years, and recently served as the chair of the compensation committee, according to the company.

    "John was a tremendous resource over the years," chairman Ronald M. Lamb said in a statement. "His leadership and insight will be missed."

    In addition, Donald F. Lamberti will retire from the company's board effective March 4, 2008. Succeeding him is Jeffrey M. Lamberti, Donald Lamberti's son and former president of the Iowa Senate.

    "As one of our founders, Don's many contributions to Casey’s cannot be overstated," said Lamb. "He has been instrumental in leading the company to where it is today and he will be greatly missed."

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