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    TA Remains in Acquisition Mode

    Company is in talks to possibly buy a half-dozen more locations.

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News

    WESTLAKE, Ohio -- TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) purchased six travel centers during its 2012 fiscal first quarter and is in discussions to perhaps buy an additional half-dozen more, Thomas O'Brien, the company's CEO, said in an investor conference call this morning.

    O'Brien stressed that negotiations to buy new properties were ongoing and the deals may never come to fruition. However, he said 2012 acquisitions should be on par with 2011.

    The parent of TA and Petro travel centers spent $26 million to purchase the aforementioned six sites during its 2012 first quarter.

    As for overall earnings, TA reported a net loss of $14.2 million for its latest quarter. The loss was narrower than the $16.5 million the company lost in the same quarter in 2011.

    "We continued our year-over-year improvement," O'Brien said. "We expected to have a loss. The first quarter is traditionally our worst of the year. The second and third quarters are always our best, and we expect to them to be good again this year."

    O'Brien cited "industry leading customer service and capital investments" for its improved year-over-year earnings figures."Non-fuel sales were very strong," he said.

    Non-fuel sales reached $308 million for TA's latest quarter, versus $285 million during the same timeframe a year ago. Fuel sales also improved to $1.68 billion in TA's fiscal first quarter, compared to $1.5 billion in 2011's first quarter.

    In addition to considering new acquisitions, O'Brien said in the earnings call that TA would continue to aggressively roll out diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at its pumps and hoped to have it installed at all of its locations in the future. DEF is an urea-based chemical reactant designed specifically for use in SCR systems to reduce NOx emissions.

    As of March 31, TA operated 184 travel centers, the same number as on March 31, 2011.

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News
    • About Brian Berk Brian Berk is managing editor of Stagnito Business Information's Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner, where he specializes in covering motor fuels, technology and financial news. He has served the magazine industry for 14 years and has also worked in the radio and newspaper fields. Berk holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

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