The Ankeny-based Casey’s Convenience store chain reports strong earnings in the first quarter of this year.

CEO Darren Rebelez talked about the numbers in an investor call today. “We achieved a record first quarter with diluted earnings per share of $3.24 — a 40-percent increase over the prior year,” Rebelez says. “The results were driven primarily by a stronger fuel margin versus the first quarter last year, along with disciplined operating expense control.”

Gas sales were down by nearly 15%, but Casey’s was able to take advantage of lower prices to make more for each gallon.
“Results were also amplified by the utilization of our price optimization and procurement capabilities — which enabled us to post an average fuel margin of 38.2 cents per gallon — and drive gross profit dollars up 39% to 210 million dollars.” according to Rebelez.

The company saw a decrease of around 10% in its prepared food sales as customer traffic dropped as a result of the pandemic.
“This category has been under the most pressure since the crisis began. Consistent with what other quick-serve restaurants have recently reported — the breakfast daypart continues to be the most adversely impacted by the pandemic,” Rebelez says. “We ended the quarter with approximately 200 stores with some sort of food restrictions, and close to 50 stores with beverage restrictions.” He says that in an improvement from the 700 stores that at one point had food or beverage restrictions.

Rebelez says there were stores impacted by the derecho — but it was not considered a major impact. “On the one hand we had some stores that were temporarily closed because of power outages,” he says. “On the other hand, other stores got an increase in volume because the other stores I mention were closed. When you wash it all out — we think we pretty much ended up about where we would have been anyway.”

He says overall strong alcohol and pizza sales offset some of the store traffic declines and restrictions limiting self-serve prepared food items and beverages.