The Ankeny-based Casey’s convenience store chain reported record earnings for the fourth quarter in the face of a hostile takeover attempt. The Canada-based Couche-Tard has made on offer to buy Casey’s stock from shareholders for 36-dollars a share. The company’s board of directors has told shareholders to not sell.
Casey’s chief financial officer, Bill Walljasper, says the company is reporting earnings of 43-cents a share in the fourth quarter compared to 31 cents for the same quarter one year ago.
Walljasper says the results include approximately $6.9-million in legal and advisory fees related to the unsolicited takeover attempt by Couche-Tard. He says without the fees, the earnings would have been about 51 cents a share. Basic earnings were $2.30 a share, a 36% increase from a year ago, driven by a strong gasoline margin and increased sales in the stores compared to one year ago.
Walljasper says the company made more money on gas sales than expected. “The strong gasoline market that we have been experiencing the last several years, continued in the fourth quarter, resulting in a margin of about 13.1 cents a gallon. We believe there has been a shift in the competitive landscape throughout our marketing area, as a result we have increased our gasoline margin goal for 2011 to 13.5 cents a gallon, which is in line with our three year gasoline margin average,” Walljasper said. Walljasper says the company’s gross profit was up 11.5% to $178.2 million.
Walljasper says, “Despite a more challenging economic environment throughout the year, sales continue to be solid inside our stores. In the grocery and other merchandise category, total sales were up 7.6% to $257.4-million in the fourth quarter. In store sales in the quarter rose, with an average margin of nearly 33.1%. This was the company’s 26th consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth.”
Walljasper says sales of food prepared in the store increased 4.2% during fiscal 2010, with an average margin of 63.8%. He says the company had acquired 37 stores and completed 18 new-store constructions in the fiscal year. Walljasper spoke with reporters in a conference call and said he would not take questions about the on-going legal action against Couche-Tard regarding the takeover attempt.