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    Earnings Roundup: Casey's , Alon and Delek Weigh In

    A double digit sales increase shines on Casey's, while Delek US suffers from low gas margins and Alon USA struggles with lower refinery production.

    NEW YORK -- The winter season has proved profitable for Casey's General Stores Inc., and not so profitable for oil companies such as Alon USA Energy Inc. and Delek U.S. Holdings Inc.

    Casey's General Stores saw net sales increase to $922 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2007, compared to the $798 million seen in the third quarter of 2006. Net earnings for the company also increased from $6.9 million in the third quarter of last year to $11.2 million for the third quarter of 2007.

    "The quarter's strong earnings were driven by double-digit total sales increases in every business category," said President and CEO Robert J. Myers. "Our total inside gross profit was up 16.1 percent."

    A mild winter caused the company's gasoline sales to rise 4 percent in same-store gallons sold in the quarter, and a 14.6 percent increase in total gallons sold, said Myers. The average gasoline margin was 10.5 cents per gallon for the third quarter, slightly shy of the 10.8 cent goal the company expects for the category.

    Inside the store, same-store sales were up 6.7 percent in the grocery and other merchandise segments with total sales increasing 15.3 percent. Prepared food and fountain also saw increases -- same-store sales increased 11.9 percent while total sales increased 19.2 percent.

    On the expansion front, the company's goal for fiscal 2007 is to acquire 50 stores and build 10 new locations. As of the end of the third quarter, Casey's acquired 47 stores -- mainly from the HandiMart acquisition of 33 stores completed in October -- and built eight new locations. "The acquisition environment continues to be favorable," said Myers.

    Delek U.S. Holdings
    Delek U.S. Holdings Inc., operator of MAPCO convenience stores, reported a drop in its fourth quarter 2006 net income of 53 percent, due to low gas prices cutting into gas margins.

    Net income for the company fell to $11.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, from $24.6 million seen during the same period in 2005. The company's retailing segment contributed $9 million in the fourth quarter compared to $14.4 million seen in the year-ago period. Unusually low retail fuel margins were to blame for the decreased profits, the company stated, and were not offset by a 9.5 percent increase in net sales to $330.6 million.

    Alon USA
    Alon USA's net income decrease as well in its fourth quarter of fiscal 2006. Profits totaled $26 million, compared to $28.8 million for the same period last year. The decline was due to lower refinery production at the company's Big Spring refinery in Texas, down to 64,910-barrels-per-day for the fourth quarter of 2006, compared to an average production of 71,865-barrels-per-day for the year-ago period. Production was lower because of operation limitations that were resolved with planned maintenance in January, the company stated.

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