Executives with Ankeny-based Casey’s General Stores report record earnings during May, June and July, fueled by stronger sales at its gas pumps and double-digit increases in sales of the pizza and pop inside its convenience stores. Bill Walljasper, the chief financial officer for Casey’s, says earnings rose 43 percent during the company’s first quarter.

“We are off to a great start in Fiscal 2014,” Walljasper says. “…Results reflect strong gains throughout all categories, resulting in over a 20 percent increase in gross profit compared to the same quarter a year ago.”

Gasoline sales were strong during the quarter. The chain sold over eight percent more gasoline during its first quarter compared to May, June and July of last year.

“We experienced a very favorable fuel margin environment for the quarter, resulting in a record fuel margin of 22.1 cents per gallon,” Walljasper says. “Our average margin for the past four years has been 14.5 cents per gallon.”

Gasoline sales increased five percent at Casey’s stores where customers of the Hy-Vee grocery store chain can use their “fuel saver” cards, while gas sales in other stores increased one percent. On the grocery side of the business, the company recorded a 16 percent increase in sales of fountain beverages and prepared food — like Casey’s pizza, but the cost of commodities is eating into profits.

“The average cost of cheese this quarter was $2.04 per pound compared to $1.81 per pound a year ago,” Walljasper says.

Still, Casey’s racked up nearly $103 million in profits from sales of pop, pizza and other prepared foods. That’s a 13.5 percent increase in profits on those products. Beer and cigarette sales at Casey’s General Stores were also up by double digits during the first quarter.

The chain had 1749 stores operating at the end of July.