A Generally Strong Quarter for Casey’s General Stores

Brick-and-mortar retail remains a market under siege, but there are areas that are less at risk from e-commerce, and the convenience store space is one of them. In this segment of the Market Foolery podcast, host Chris Hill and Motley Fool Asset Management’s Bill Barker review the latest data from Midwest-centric chain Casey’s General Stores (NASDAQ:CASY), and they have reason to be pleased.

There’s improved productivity, and it appears to be doing a bit of everything right. Still, even after the stock jump the report produced, the share price is below recently seen highs. And for investors now, the real question may be what its growth opportunity looks like. The Fools consider.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Sept. 11, 2018.

Chris Hill: Let’s start, though, with Casey’s General Store. Good first-quarter report for Casey’s General. Profits look good. The stock up 8%. I don’t know if Ron Gross would say they’re firing on all cylinders, but this certainly seemed like an all-around really good report for them.

Bill Barker: It’s a good report. When you look at the stock movement, 8% today, you need to take a step back and look at the other places that it’s been. The stock, even after today’s rise, is still below where it’s been in chunks of the last two years. It had sort of bottomed out around May of this year in the mid to low $90s. Now, it’s up at $125. A nice run since then, but what they’ve achieved today in their report, I think, is to show that this productivity improvement model that they’ve adopted is beginning to find some traction. Combined with decent same-store sales, buying back some shares, opening some stores, doing a little bit of everything right, that’s resulted in 8% today.

Hill: This is a retailer which is concentrated in the Midwest. I’m wondering, how big is the growth opportunity for Casey’s General? It seems like, often is the case — I’m not saying it’s necessarily the case with Casey’s — we see retailers expanding a little too fast, and it ends up hurting their results. Do you think they’ve got the location footprint that they need to be successful? Or is there further growth from here?

Barker: There’s further growth. There isn’t rapid for their growth. If you’re used to dealing with what really qualifies as growth stocks these days, things that you’re seeing grow 20-40%… you talk about stocks that qualify on that all the time on the show. This is not that. They’ve got about 2,000 stores open. 2,073 at the beginning of the quarter. 2,085 at the end. They opened up 15, closed a few, so net 12 for the quarter. That’s consistent with what they see for 2019, where they’re going to acquire about 20, open about 60, that’s 80. That’s about 3-4% store growth. That’s pretty manageable. That’s the plan. That’s a combination of new places and taking over competition that’s a little bit less well run than Casey’s is.

Bill Barker has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Casey’s General Stores. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.