Why Casey's General Stores Inc. Stock Plunged Today

By Markets Fool.com

Image source: Casey's General Stores.

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What happened

Shares of Casey's General Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: CASY) fell as much as 13.5% early Wednesday, and traded down 8.5% as of 2:30 p.m. EDT after the company announced weaker-than-expected fiscal first-quarter 2017 results.

So what

Quarterly revenue declined 7.9% year over year, to $1.97 billion, and translated to 9.1% growth in net income to $67.4 million, or $1.70 per diluted share. But analysts, on average, were looking for higher earnings of $1.81 per share.

"Fuel gross profit dollars increased 19.1% for the quarter as both same-store gallons and margin exceeded goal," added Casey's CEO Terry Handley. "We were pleased with the performance inside our stores as gross profit dollars excluding fuel increased 6.7%, despite the recent weaknesses reported in the broader convenience and food service industries."

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More specifically, Casey's saw same-store sales climb 4.7% year over year in its grocery and other merchandise segmentduring the quarter. That's below Casey's annual goal of 6.2% growth, Handley stated, partly due to a deceleration of cigarette sales from the same year-ago period. Meanwhile, prepared food and fountain same-store sales grew 5.1%, which was also below Casey's full-year goal of 10.2% growth due to recent softening in traffic similar to that reported by other retailers in the food service industry.

To Casey's credit, fuel segment same-store gallons grew 3.1% year over year, above its full-year goal of 2% comps growth thanks to lower retail fuel prices and increased miles driven throughout its operating territory.

Now what

That's not to say Casey's General Stores' performance was terrible. The chain did, after all, set a fresh company record for fiscal Q1 earnings. But it's apparent the market wanted more. And with Casey's shares trading near all-time highs shortly before today's report -- and still up more than 15% over the past year as of this writing -- it's no surprise to see Casey's stock pulling back today.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Casey's General Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.