Pantry Elbows To Rebound

Shares of The Pantry rose in early trading Thursday after the company said it expects to rebound from a recent string of poor showings, the Triangle Business Journal reported.

The Sanford, N.C.-based chain said earnings per share in the fiscal quarter ending June 26 will exceed the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial, the publication reported.

Analysts expect the company to post earnings of 23 cents per diluted share. Its shares were up 12.36% to $10.18 on Thursday, though its shares nearly a year ago were almost $50. In keeping with a September 2007 announcement that it will no longer give income estimates because of multiple misses, The Pantry didn’t give any further numerical guidance.

Previously given guidance on operating metrics including sales, profit margins and expenses are still in line to be met, the company said in a statement.

High oil prices have put the squeeze on the company, which has been prevented by tight competition from passing all of its increased costs on to consumers. The company’s performance has also been hurt by the economic downturn, as customers are buying less gas and fewer snacks.

Most recently, the company said it would cut capital expenditures and stop what had been a near-constant stream of acquisitions. Shares jumped 14% on that announcement, though the stock has since given back those gains on fears of prolonged economic pain.

As of June 16, The Pantry operated 1,660 stores in 11 states across the Southeast.

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