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    The Pantry Expects 2nd-Quarter Loss

    Declining gas and merchandise sales are to blame.

    SANFORD, N.C. -- Citing declining gas and merchandise sales, The Pantry Inc. announced Wednesday that it expects to report a loss for the fiscal second quarter.

    "Merchandise and gasoline volumes for the second quarter were clearly affected by high gasoline prices and soft consumer spending across our market areas," Peter J. Sodini, company chairman and chief executive, in said in a released statement.

    The loss projection estimates a 24 to 30 cent per share drop, which includes a 23-cent charge related to realized and market-to-market losses on hedging positions. The Associated Press reported that same-store sales, or sales in stores open at least one year, fell 3.4 percent during the quarter.

    Thomson Financial analysts expect a profit of 17 cents per share; however, analysts usually exclude one-time items. According to the AP, the company's shares fell $1.29, or 5.9 percent, to $20.55 during pre-market electronic trading, after closing at $21.84 on Tuesday.

    While the gas margin was buoyed by ethanol blending in about a third of its stores, revenues were offset by rising oil costs, higher credit-card fees and the charge for losses on hedging positions. To this end, the company lowered its expectations for its gas margin in the first half of fiscal 2008 due to continuing high credit card feels and crude oil pricing uncertainty.

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