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    Pantry Earnings Up

    Southeastern giant credits improved margins at pump, inside

    SANFORD, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc. announced that adjusted earnings per share for the first fiscal quarter of 2003 ending Dec. 26, 2002, will be more than 20 cents higher than during the same period last year.

    First quarter EBITDA will be in the range of $32 million to $33 million, amounting to earnings per share of 22 to 25 cents. By comparison, first quarter 2002 earnings per share were 2 cents.

    Reported earnings per share for the quarter, including changes in the fair market value of interest rate derivatives and a one-time, non-cash after tax charge of $2.7 million associated with the company's adoption of new accounting standards, will be in the range of 10 to 13 cents.

    Based in part on these expected first quarter results, the company has also raised expectations for fiscal 2003 EBITDA to be in the range of $118 million to $120 million, with adjusted earnings per share of 56 to 63 cents.

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