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    TravelCenters of America Net Loss Shrinks in Q1

    U.S. economy presented truck stop operator with "significant operating challenges."

    WESTLAKE, Ohio -- TravelCenters of America LLC (TA), operator of more than 230 travel stops under the TA or Petro names, saw its net loss shrink during the first quarter 2009, ended March 31, yet attributed the continuing slowdown of the economy as cause for its declines elsewhere in its earnings report.

    The company noted during the first quarter, "the continued slowing of the U.S. economy presented TA with significant operating challenges."

    Revenues for the first quarter plummeted to $967 million, from $1.9 billion generated in the year-ago period. Net loss decreased to $18 million from $48 million compared to a year-ago.

    Despite the current business conditions, TA said it made progress toward adjusting its business to the challenges, and believes its operating initiatives—such as a termination of a fuel marketing agreement, fuel pricing strategies, a staffing reorganization and workforce reduction—have been significant contributors to its improved results.

    Fuel sales dropped 55.9 percent to $703 million, on a 16.4 percent decline in fuel volumes on a same-site basis for the 2009 first quarter over the 2008 first quarter. The company stated its fuel volume declines are consistent with declines in trucking activity and diesel fuel consumption.

    Despite the lower volumes, fuel margins increased 42.3 percent to $60 million in the first quarter 2009.

    Total non-fuel sales decreased slightly from $285 million during the year-ago quarter to $259 million.

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