Casey's Reports First Quarter Results; Expansion Activity Accelerates
Ankeny, IA - Casey's General Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq symbol CASY) today reported diluted earnings per share of $1.46 for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 ended July 31, 2017, compared to $1.70 per share for the same quarter a year ago. Changes in vesting provisions that accelerated expense in the current grant awards under the long-term stock incentive plan, combined with increases to Illinois state tax rates lowered diluted earnings by $0.17 per share. "Expansion activity for new store construction continues to increase as there are now 179 sites either under construction or under agreement," said Terry Handley, President and CEO. "We are well positioned to sustain a higher level of unit growth in fiscal 2018 and beyond."
The Company's fiscal 2018 guidance was to increase same-store gallons sold 1.0% to 2.0% with an average margin of 18.0 to 20.0 cents per gallon. For the quarter, same-store gallons sold were up 1.7% with an average margin of 19.3 cents per gallon. "Same-store gallons sold for the quarter benefited from continued low retail fuel prices," said Handley. The Company sold 15.7 million renewable fuel credits for $10.5 million during the first quarter. Total gallons sold for the quarter were up 5.4% to 565.0 million gallons while gross profit dollars increased 4.6% to $109.2 million.
Grocery and Other Merchandise
The Company's fiscal 2018 guidance was to increase same-store sales 2.0% to 4.0% with an average margin of 31.0% to 32.0%. For the quarter, same-store sales were up 3.1% with an average margin of 31.9%. "Both same-store sales and average margin were within the annual performance guidance," stated Handley, "and we continue to outpace other retailers in the industry." For the first quarter, total grocery and other merchandise revenue increased 5.5% to $597.4 million, and gross profit dollars were up 6.3% to $190.4 million.
Prepared Food and Fountain
The fiscal 2018 guidance was to increase same-store sales 5.0% to 7.0% with an average margin of 61.5% to 62.5%. Same-store sales for the quarter were up 3.7% with an average margin of 62.5%. "Like others in the broader food service industry have reported, we experienced a softening of traffic, particularly in the month of July," said Handley. Total prepared food and fountain revenue increased 7.5% to $261.8 million in the first quarter while gross profit dollars grew 6.9% to $163.6 million.
Casey's fiscal 2018 guidance was a 9.0% to 11.0% increase in total operating expenses. For the first quarter, total operating expenses increased 10.0% to $321.2 million. The increase was primarily attributable to increases in employee-related costs from operating more stores and implementing growth programs in more stores compared to the first quarter a year ago, and a $7.3 million incremental accelerated expense recognized due to changes in vesting provisions in the current year grant awards under the long-term stock incentive plan. "Total expense for the new grants is expected to be comparable with previous grants; however, changes in provisions of the award agreement accelerated the recognition of expense," stated Handley. Excluding the $7.3 million increase, total operating expenses were up 7.5% for the quarter. Store level operating expenses for open stores not impacted by recent growth programs were up 3.9% for the quarter, compared to 6.6% for all of fiscal 2017. "Overall, we are encouraged by the improvements made in this area and will continue to focus on this area the remainder of the fiscal year," added Handley.
The Company's fiscal 2018 guidance was to build or acquire 80 to 120 stores, replace 30 existing locations, and complete 75 major remodels. At the end of the first quarter, the Company had built and opened two new stores, acquired three stores, completed one replacement, and remodeled 11 stores. In addition, there were 47 new stores, 27 replacement stores, and 16 major remodel stores under construction. Finally, the Company had 132 sites under agreement for new store construction and 18 acquisition stores under agreement to purchase. "We are pleased with the gains made in accelerating new store construction, and we will remain disciplined in evaluating acquisition opportunities," said Handley.
Share Repurchase Program
During the first quarter of fiscal 2018, the Company repurchased 718,369 shares of its common stock under its open market share repurchase program for approximately $77.9 million, or an average price of $108.41 per share. As of July 31, 2017, the Company had a total remaining authorized amount for share repurchases of $172.7 million.
At its September meeting, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.26 per share. The dividend is payable November 15, 2017 to shareholders of record on November 1, 2017.
Fiscal 2018 Guidance
Based on the ongoing softening of traffic experienced in the first quarter, the Company is revising its prepared food and fountain same-store sales guidance to 4.0% to 6.0% from 5.0% to 7.0%. Also, due to the continued increase in new store construction activity and the number of acquisition stores under agreement, the Company is revising its expansion guidance to build or acquire 90 to 120 stores from 80 to 120 stores. There were no other changes to the fiscal 2018 guidance. Below is a summary of the previous and current fiscal 2018 guidance:
Download Full Earnings Release
Earnings will be reported during a conference call on September 6, 2017. The call will be broadcast live online at 9:30 a.m. CST at the link below and will be available in an archived format for one year.
Certain statements in this news release, including any discussion of management expectations for future periods, constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from future results expressed or implied by those statements. Casey's disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
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