The Pantry Reports 4Q, Fiscal 2005 Financials

Rebranding, long-term gas contracts yielding positive results

Published in CSP Daily News

SANFORD, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc. has announced financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter and year ended Sept. 29, 2005.

Total revenues for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 were approximately $1.4 billion, a 33% increase from last year's fourth quarter, which included an extra week of operations. Net income for the quarter was $25.4 million, or $1.12 per share on a diluted basis, compared with $12.6 million, or 60 cents per share, a year ago. The results included charges totaling approximately 22 cents per share related to store closings, impairment [image-nocss] charges and uninsured losses associated with Hurricane Katrina. Results for last year's fourth quarter included a net negative impact of approximately seven cents per share from uninsured hurricane-related property losses, partially offset by gains on real estate transactions.

For the full fiscal year, revenues totaled approximately $4.4 billion, a 26.8% increase from fiscal 2004. Net income for the year was $57.8 million, or $2.64 per share, compared with $15.7 million, or 76 cents per share, in fiscal 2004. Excluding a number of financing-related charges, diluted earnings per share for fiscal 2004 were $1.54.

Fiscal 2005 was an exceptional year for The Pantry, underscoring the success of our strategic initiatives over the last few years, said President and CEO Peter J. Sodini. While fourth-quarter operating results were boosted by an unusually strong contribution from the company's gasoline operations, we remained very competitive, as evidenced by our increases in year-over-year comparable gasoline gallons sold. With comparable-store merchandise sales and gasoline gallons both up approximately 5% for the year, our core store base is clearly performing well. We believe this reflects the benefits from our store conversion and rebranding program, as well as our ongoing focus on appealing, higher-margin merchandise categories such as foodservice and private-label products. In addition, we believe our fourth-quarter results, in particular, highlighted the benefits of the long-term gasoline supply contracts we have negotiated in recent years, which gave us the flexibility and relative certainty of supply to continue serving our customers through the uncertain market environment in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Merchandise revenues for the fourth quarter increased 1.1% from a year ago, or 8.7% adjusting for the extra week in the prior period, and were up 4.7% on a comparable-store basis. The merchandise gross margin was 36.2%, compared with 35.6% a year ago. Total merchandise gross profits for the fourth quarter were $120.9 million, a 2.8% increase from a year ago. For the full fiscal year, comparable-store merchandise revenues increased 5.3%, while total merchandise gross profit rose 5.6% on a 30 basis-point improvement in the gross margin to 36.6%.

Comparable-store gasoline gallons for the quarter increased 3.1% from a year ago, with total gallons sold up 8.4%, or 16.8% adjusting for the extra week in the prior year. Gasoline revenues rose 48%, in part reflecting a 36.8% increase in the average retail price per gallon, to $2.49. The gross margin per gallon was 19.4 cents, compared with 12.0 cents a year ago. Gasoline gross profit for the quarter totaled $81.4 million, a 76% increase from last year's fourth quarter. For the full fiscal year, comparable store gasoline gallons rose 4.7% and total gasoline gross profit increased 29.3%. The gasoline margin per gallon for the year was 14.3 cents, compared with 12.0 cents in fiscal 2004.

During fiscal 2005, the Pantry acquired 96 convenience stores through three major acquisitions and several smaller transactions. The largest and most strategically significant transaction was the purchase of 53 Cowboys stores in April, located mostly in Georgia and Alabama. It also acquired 23 Sentry c-stores in August, located in Virginia, and 13 Speedmart stores in September, located in Alabama.

These deals all represented attractive opportunities to tuck-in' modern, high-volume stores that complement our strengths in existing markets, with an immediate positive contribution to earnings per share, Sodini said.

He concluded, Longer term, with our substantial cash flow and the additional flexibility provided by our recent convertible debt financing, we believe we are very well-positioned to continue building on our strong market presence across the Southeast.

As of Sept. 29, 2005, the Sanford, N.C.-based company operated 1,400 stores in 11 states under a number of banners including Kangaroo Express, Cowboys and Golden Gallon.