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    Speedway Eyeing Hess' Retail Locations

    Acquisitions propel the Midwest chain’s first-quarter earnings higher.

    FINDLAY, Ohio – The more than 1,360 Hess Corp. convenience stores and gas stations currently up for sale could be a good fit for Speedway LLC, Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) President and CEO Gary Heminger said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call this morning.

    "Hess primarily has retail assets on the eastern seaboard that could complement our business well," the head of Speedway’s parent company said. "Hess has very good-looking assets."

    Most Speedway convenience stores are currently located in the Midwest.

    Meanwhile, several already-completed acquisitions in the past year buoyed Speedway’s 2013 first-quarter earnings higher, according to Heminger. The retailer added 93 stores in the 52-week period ended March 31, primarily via acquisitions. Heminger stressed that these stores are performing very well thus far.

    The new additions helped Speedway achieve a $67 million net profit in the first quarter, compared to a $50 million profit during the same period in 2012.

    "Speedway had a very strong quarter," Heminger stated on today’s earnings call.

    Breaking down Speedway’s earnings further, the c-store chain, which operates 1,463 locations, saw merchandise sales increase to $711 million in its latest quarter vs. $695 million in its 2012 first quarter. Merchandise gross margins improved to $184 million vs. $179 million a year ago. Same-store merchandise sales, excluding cigarettes, also increased by 0.8 percent.

    As for motor fuel, gasoline and distillate gross margins rose to 13 cents per gallon in Speedway’s most recent quarter, compared to 10.9 cents in its 2012 first quarter. In addition, same-store gasoline sales volumes improved by 0.7 percent.

    Companywide, Heminger noted that its Speedway unit and higher refining margins were primary components that lifted Findlay, Ohio-based MPC’s overall earnings. MPC posted a net profit of $725 million in its 2013 first quarter vs. $596 million in the same quarter one year ago.

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