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    The Pantry Boosts Earnings Forecast Despite Hurricanes

    Uninsured property losses will reduce pre-tax income by $2.2 million to $2.5 million.

    RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc. on Wednesday raised its quarterly and year-end earnings guidance despite financial losses caused by the recent spate of hurricanes that have hit the Southeast, reported the Triangle Business Journal.

    The Sanford, N.C.-based convenience store operator's estimated uninsured property losses due to hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan will reduce pre-tax income in the current quarter by $2.2 million to $2.5 million, or approximately 6 cents to 7 cents per share, according to The Pantry.

    All but two locations in the affected areas were reopened shortly after the storms passed and power was restored. Factoring in increased business in the affected areas prior to the storms, the net effect of the hurricanes on operating results -- other than the property losses -- was minimal, the company said.

    "Operating results for the fourth fiscal quarter to date have been slightly better than earlier expectations," president and CEO Peter J. Sodini said in a statement. "Looking ahead, we believe a portion of our store base will benefit from increased traffic due to hurricane-related reconstruction activity."

    In fact, Sodini said that in spite of the hurricane disruptions and the related estimated losses -- and excluding financing-related expenses earlier in the year -- the company expects fiscal 2004 diluted earnings per share to be in a range between $1.60 and $1.63. That compares to previous guidance of $1.58 to $1.63.

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