Profit-Margin Malaise

While petroleum wholesalers see healthy sales, gas station profits slow to grow

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In a year when many industries struggled, petroleum wholesalers ranked fourth strongest in sales growth in a report analyzing private companies in 1,600 industries; however, both petroleum wholesalers and gasoline stations found themselves in the bottom 20th percentile of industries based on pretax net-profit margins in the overall United States.

"Those two industries have some of the lowest net-profit margins in the country," Melinda Crump, a spokesperson for Sageworks Inc., told CSP Daily News.

According to database information from Sageworks, [image-nocss] private U.S. petroleum product merchant wholesalers saw sales grow 16.49% during the 12 months ending Dec. 1, 2008. That's fourth highest in the company's rankings, behind farm product raw material merchant wholesalers (20.99%), cattle ranching and farming (19.71%) and support activities for mining (18.63%).

However, the same industry saw its pretax net-profit margin grow only 1.36% (fifth lowest on the list), and gasoline stations ranked seventh lowest on the same list with net-profit-margin growth of only 1.72%.

Sageworks, a financial analysis firm in Raleigh, N.C., ranked 1,600 industries by their sales growth or decline. The data is aggregated via accountants in Sageworks' subscriber base based on their work with clients in each industry.