Casey's Strides

Reports record quarter with strong gasoline, inside sales

ANKENY, Iowa -- Casey's General Stores Inc. has reported net earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 ended July 31, 2013, of $55.71 million, compared to $39.03 million for the same quarter a year ago, a 42.7% increase, mostly on gasoline.

"We are off to an excellent start of the fiscal year driven by strong sales throughout all categories," said president and CEO Robert J. Myers. "The gasoline category of our business is performing exceptionally well in both sales and margin."

Gasoline: The company's annual goal is to increase same-store gallons sold 1.5% with an average margin of 15 cents per gallon. For the first quarter, same-store gallons sold were up 3.2% with an average margin of 22.1 cents per gallon.

"The company sold 12.6 million renewable fuel credits for $12.9 million during the first three months of the year," said Myers. "That, along with the sales lift we are experiencing due to our fuel saver program, helped us achieve a 60% increase in gasoline gross profit for the first quarter."

Total gallons sold for the quarter were up 8.2% to 426.5 million gallons.

Grocery & Other Merchandise: Casey's annual goal is to increase same-store sales 5% with an average margin of 32.3%. For the quarter, same-store sales were up 6.1% with an average margin of 32.7%.

"Due to the retail price adjustments made last fiscal year, Casey's made great strides in increasing our market share for cigarettes compared to the first quarter a year ago," said Myers. "Despite the significant price reductions in cigarettes, gross profit increased 7.4% for the total category in the first quarter."

Total sales for the quarter were $423.6 million and gross profit was $138.4 million.

Prepared Food & Fountain: The goal for fiscal 2014 is to increase same-store sales 9% with an average margin of 62.0%. For the first quarter, same-store sales were up 11.9% with an average margin of 61.8%.

"The same-store sales increase is primarily due to the continued roll out of pizza delivery, major remodels and 24-hour expansion, along with some retail price increases implemented at the start of the fiscal year," said Myers. "We did experience a rise in the cost of several input costs, primarily cheese, which adversely impacted the margin relative to the prior year."

Total sales for the category were up 16.5% to $166.2 million, and gross profit increased 13.5% to $102.8 million.

Operating Expenses: For the first quarter, operating expenses were $216 million compared to $189.4 million for the first quarter a year ago, up 14%.

"Operating expenses are up primarily due to the various operational initiatives Casey's has been implementing to drive inside sales, along with the new construction and acquisition activity," said Myers. "Store-level operating expenses for locations not impacted by the initiatives were up 4.9% for the first quarter."

Expansion: The company's annual goal is to build or acquire 70 to 105 stores and replace 20 existing locations. As of the end of the quarter, it opened four new stores and acquired three stores. Casey's also completed five replacement stores.

"Our pipeline of new store constructions and potential acquisitions is as full as it has been in recent history," Myers said. "Our balance sheet remains very strong, and we are well positioned to take advantage of opportunities."

The company currently has 31 new stores and 18 replacement stores under construction, as well as 19 stores under written agreement to acquire.

Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey's owns and operates approximately 1,750 c-stores in 14 Greater Midwestern states--Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee.