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    Susser Holdings Reports Solid 2008 Results

    CEO: High quality and strong value pricing helped insulate the chain from recession.

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Susser Holdings Corp., operator of more than 510 c-stores under the Stripes and Town & Country banners, reported results for its fourth quarter, ended Dec. 28, 2008, as well as its full fiscal 2008 financial results.

    Comparing full year results, same-store merchandise sales increased 6.6 percent, or 7.8 percent comparing year-over-year results as if the company’s November 2007 Town & Country acquisition had taken place Jan. 1, 2007. Merchandise margin increased to 34.3 percent from 32.5 percent in 2007. Total merchandise sales increased 64.3 percent from 2007 to $729.9 million, according to Susser’s report.

    Total company revenues were up 56.0 percent to $4.2 billion. Gross profit increased 66.3 percent to $436.6 million for 2008. Adjusted EBITDA was $110.6 million, up 89.8 percent from a year ago on a reported basis and up 10.9 percent comparing year-over-year results as if the Town & Country acquisition had taken place Jan. 1, 2007.

    Net income in 2008 was $16.5 million vs. $6.4 million in 2007, excluding a non-recurring tax benefit of $9.8 million related to the release of a tax valuation allowance. Reported net income for 2007 -- including the effect of the tax benefit -- was $16.3 million.

    "Although the national recession has dampened overall consumer spending, merchandise sales in our stores have continued to increase. And with gasoline prices returning to more normal levels, fuel gallons rebounded in the fourth quarter," Sam L. Susser, the company's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "While our business is not entirely recession-proof, we believe the high quality and strong value pricing we provide our customers has helped insulate us from the national trend. Customers who are 'trading down' in their consumption habits are discovering better values at our Stripes and Town & Country stores for beverages, snacks and the delicious tacos made to order in our Laredo Taco Company kitchens."

    Susser also noted Town & Country results over the past year have strongly demonstrated the acquisition was a great strategic move, one that is providing the chain with needed market diversification, scale and the opportunity for continued growth.

    For the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 28, 2008, same-store merchandise sales increased by 6.5 percent on a reported basis and by 7.3 percent comparing year-over-year results as if the Town & Country Food Stores acquisition had taken place Jan. 1, 2007.

    Retail merchandise margin increased to 34.6 percent, up from 32.7 percent a year ago. Fourth quarter convenience store merchandise sales totaled $183.9 million, an increase of 34.6 percent from the year-earlier quarter, according to Susser.

    Total company revenues for the fourth quarter 2008 were $795.0 million, down 3.3 percent from a year ago due to a substantial drop in fuel prices year-over-year. Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA totaled $30.5 million, up 79.1 percent from a year ago on a reported basis and up 42.4 percent comparing year-over-year results as if the Town & Country acquisition had taken place Jan. 1, 2007. Gross profit increased 44.0 percent to $113.4 million, driven by higher gasoline margins and sharply higher merchandise margins from the company's Stripes- and Town & Country-branded c-stores.

    Net income was $6.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 vs. $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, excluding a non-recurring tax benefit of $6.6 million related to the release of the company's remaining tax valuation allowance. Reported net income -- including the effect of the tax benefit -- was $7.5 million in the year-earlier quarter.

    During the fourth quarter of 2008, Susser said it opened five new retail units, bringing the total number of stores built in 2008 to 12. The company also planned closings of two smaller retail locations, bringing the total retail store count to 512 as of Dec. 28.

    One additional store opened since year-end in the Rio Grande Valley, and two more are under construction in West Texas. The retailer also added three Laredo Taco Company restaurants to existing stores in the quarter, which brings the total number of stores with restaurant operations to 294, or 57 percent, as of year-end.

    In its wholesale operations, Susser added 14 new dealer sites and discontinued 17 during the fourth quarter, for a total of 372 dealer sites in operation at the end of 2008. For the full year, the company opened 27 new dealer sites and discontinued 42 lower-volume sites.

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