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Casey's General Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:CASY)

Q3 2014 Earnings Conference Call

March 11, 2014 10:30 ET

Executives

Bob Myers - President, CEO

Bill Walljasper - CFO, SVP

Analysts

Dane Leone - Macquarie

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Ben Bienvenu - Stephens Inc.

Ben Brownlow - Raymond James

Ronald Bookbinder - The Benchmark Company

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Third Quarter 2014 Casey's General Stores Earnings Conference Call. My name is Britney, and I will be the operator for today's conference. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will introduce the question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions)

At this time, I would now like to turn the presentation over to host for today Chief Financial Officer, Bill Walljasper. Please proceed, sir.

Bill Walljasper

Thank you, Britney, and good morning. And thank you for joining us to discuss Casey's results for the quarter ended January 31st. I'm Bill Walljasper, Chief Financial Officer. Bob Myers, President and Chief Executive Officer, is also here.

Before we begin, I'll remind you that certain statements may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. As discussed in the press release and the 2013 Annual Report, 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.

We'll take a few minutes to summarize the quarter and then open for questions. As most of you have seen diluted earnings per share in the third quarter was $0.38 compared to $0.48 a year ago. Year-to-date diluted earnings per share were $2.87 compared to $2.26. The earnings shortfall in the quarter from a year ago as a result of challenging weather environment and impairment charge related to a store destroyed by fire. However, for the quarter EBITDA was up 9%, year-to-date EBITDA was up nearly 22%.

Before we go over each category to give more detail on what is driving the results, I'll remind everyone that we will release the details for February same-store sales on Monday, March 17. In an attempt to provide more clarity and transparency to the investment community, the same-store sales filing will have a slightly different format. Going forward, we will no longer use the term inline to describe the fuel margin as it relates to our annual goal; instead we will be using the term slightly above or slightly below. This will be defined as $0.05 variance from the annual goal.

During the third quarter, we experienced a less volatile fuel cost environment resulting in a more competitive retail fuel landscape. This along with our typical seasonal impact resulted in the fuel margin to drop slightly below our annual goal of $0.144 per gallon compared to $0.138 per gallon in the same period a year ago.

Third quarter margin benefited from increasing the renewable fuel credits commonly known as RINs compared to the same period of last year. During the quarter, we sold 12.2 million RINs or $3.4 million, this represented just below $0.01 impact in the fuel margin. Certainly RINs are trading around $0.50 to $0.55. Last year in the fourth quarter, the average RINs sold were $0.47.

Year-to-date, the fuel margin is $0.178 per gallon well head of our annual goal. Even though we have cycled over the implementation of the fuel saver program in December of 2013, we are still seeing a significant impact of same-store gallons from this program.

Same-store gallons sold in stores that participated in the fuel saver program increased 5.7% resulting in overall same-store gallons in the quarter to be up 3.8%. Total gallons sold in this period increased 9.2% to $411.4 million. Same-store gallons sold through the first nine months were up 3.7% compared to the same period a year ago, with total gallons sold for the year up 9.1% or 1.3 billion gallons.

For the 9-month mark, the average retail price was $3.32 per gallon compared to $3.38 last year. The average retail price of gasoline for the quarter was $3.05 a gallon compared to $3.15 a gallon last year. Despite adverse weather comparisons same-store sales in the Grocery and General Merchandise category were above our annual goal increasing 6.5% in the quarter. Total sales during this period rose 10.7% to $364.8 million.

We experienced double-digit sales growth in nearly every category – in every area of this category including cigarettes. We believe we are continuing to gain market share in the cigarette area as a result of the price reductions we made last fiscal year. Even though the margin in the category continue to be adversely impacted by those changes, we have cycled over the majority of these cigarette price adjustments and are now seeing improvement in the margin in period-over-period comparisons.

The average margin was down in the quarter from a year ago to 31.1%. As a result, gross profit dollar rose 8.4% to $113.4 million. Year-to-date same-store sales were up 7.5% with an average margin of 32.1%.

The Prepared Food and Fountain category continued its strong performance. Total sales were up 15.4% to $158.2 million for the quarter. Same-store sales in the quarter were up 10.7% with an average margin of 60.8% up 20 basis points from the same time a year ago.

Margin was up primarily due to an increase in the contribution of pizza sales in the category offset by higher input costs primarily cheese. The average cost of cheese this quarter was $2.17 per pound compared to $2.09 a year ago. Currently, the average cheese cost is approximately $2.50 per pound. The average cost of cheese in the fourth quarter last year was $1.89 per pound.

Gross profit dollars for the quarter were up 15.8%, year-to-date same-store sales were up 11.7% with an average margin of 61.5%. We continue to benefit from the additional rollout of our operational initiatives mentioned in the press release.

At the 9-month mark, operating expenses were up 13.7%. For the quarter, operating expenses increased 13.1% to $214.7 million. About 52% of this increase was due to a rise in wages, primarily related to operating 52 more stores this quarter compared to the same period a year ago and an increase in the operational initiatives described in the press release.

Credit card fees were up $2.4 million as a result of increasing credit card utilization. Credit card transactions were up 15% accounting for approximately 61% of all sales this quarter compared to 60% a year ago.

In addition to these items, we also experienced $1.6 million in combined charges from increase in snow removal this year versus a year ago and the impairment of a store destroyed by fire mentioned in the press release. Excluding these two items, operating expenses would have been up about 12.2% during the quarter. Combining, these two represent an impact to earnings of approximately $0.03 per share.

On the income statement, total revenue in the quarter was up 7.7% to $1.8 billion due to an increase in the number of stores in operations this quarter compared to the same period a year ago and a completion of more operational initiatives. Year-to-date, total revenue was up 8.8% primarily due to sales increases in the categories mentioned previously offset by lower retail fuel price.

Effective tax rate in the quarter was up from a year ago in the same period. For fiscal 2013 third quarter tax rate was favorably impacted by the reenactment of federal tax credits with the retroactive application made during that period.

Our balance sheet continues to be strong. As of January 31st, cash and cash equivalents were $102.2 million. Long-term debt, net of prematurities was $853.7 million while shareholder equity rose to $701.8 million up $99.5 million from fiscal year end generating a $210.7 million in cash flow from operations. At the 9-month mark, capital expenditures were $269.1 million compared to $266.3 million a year ago in the same period.

At the beginning of the year, our capital expenditure estimate was between $313 million and $374 million. This quarter, we opened 12 new store constructions and completed two acquisitions. For the year, we acquired 24 stores and completed 26 new stores constructions. We are on pace to complete a total of 40 to 45 new store constructions by the end of the fiscal year and replace 20 to 25 stores. Year-to-date, we have replaced 19 stores.

Currently, we have 25 new stores under construction and 15 replacement stores under construction. In addition to this, we have an additional 43 new sites and 33 replacement sites under contract. We are excited about the announcement of the Stop-n-Go acquisition. This purchase gives us a stronger presence in North Dakota and we expect to close on this deal early in May. Including this acquisition, we have 32 stores under written agreement to acquire, which positions our company very well for future growth. Our store count at the end of this quarter was 1,783 corporate stores.

In addition to the unit growth, year-to-date we have converted 114 more locations to 24 hours format added 80 additional stores for the pizza delivery program and completed 25 major remodels. Combination of these initiatives accounts for approximately half of the same-store sales increases as mentioned previously.

Lastly, we are the final – we are in the process of finalizing location of the second distribution center. We expect to announce detail of this facility within the next 30 days.

That completes our view of the quarter, as I mentioned previously we will release February same-store sales on Monday, March 17th. We will now take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) And your first question comes from the line of Dane Leone with Macquarie. Please proceed.

Dane Leone - Macquarie

Hi. Thanks for taking the question guys.

Bill Walljasper

Dane, how are you?

Dane Leone - Macquarie

Good. Good. Could you just provide a little bit more color on how the cigarette pricing is playing out; I think you said the comps are starting to turn over, maybe looking for a bit more detail on how the competitive situations evolved over the last couple of months?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. Yes. As I mentioned in the narrative, the price adjustments we made last fiscal year, the majority of those were done in October – the end of October and November. So we now have cycled over the majority of those. So as we looked at that cigarette margin and the Grocery and General Merchandise margin, we improved sequentially throughout the quarter, month-to-month. We actually saw an improvement in the Grocery and General Merchandise margin in January versus January a year ago.

So what we believe that we have now cycled the majority of that. With respect to the competitive landscape in cigarettes, there really hasn't been a change in that landscape that would affect us. We believe we are gaining market share-based on those reductions that we made in the prior fiscal year. We change to monitor that obviously on a very regular basis. Hopefully that answers your question.

Dane Leone - Macquarie

So it's kind of around 31% what you consider the rebasing for the overall category with the cigarettes, or is there room for improvement there is to kind of move into 2015?

Bill Walljasper

I wouldn't say that that would be the base. I mean if you look at ours, the seasonality of our Grocery and General Merchandise, usually in Q3 and Q4, we typically see a downward movement sequentially in the Grocery and General Merchandise that's really a result of us selling less of higher margin items in the colder months like the packaged beverages. So we typically see an uptick in the margin come Q1, Q2. So wouldn't say 31 would be the base necessarily.

And the intent for us Dane is, as we get more and more of our new store designs out in operation contributing to the store base. These new store designs have much greater cooler capacity which helps us to be a little more flexible in some of the higher margin, higher churning items in the packaged beverage area.

Dane Leone - Macquarie

Okay, great. And the last question for me is, how do you see working cap playing out, you've definitely had some negative working cap as you're building out new stores. Do you think that can change in the next few quarters, or is there anything that's kind of increased scale there that they will get some positive cap falling back into the cash flow statement (indiscernible).

Bill Walljasper

Yes. The working capital is a little cyclical as well simply because of some of the items I mentioned previously. We also see typically a seasonal downturn to the gas margin Q3, but that does a little bit of a crimp on working capital in those periods relative to the other periods. But, we certainly see working capital improve as we go forward; we get some of the initiatives rolling out.

As I mentioned in the store growth, we have a lot of stores under construction, a lot of stores under contract, which really positions us extremely well for fiscal 2015 from a unit growth perspective. And so once we get those up and operational in addition to the Stop-n-Go acquisition that we expect to close in May, we should see some benefit from all of that.

Dane Leone - Macquarie

Thank you.

Bill Walljasper

Thanks.

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of Karen Short with Deutsche Bank. Please proceed.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Hi.

Bill Walljasper

Hi, Karen.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Couple of questions just on like your – I guess your footprint in general and also a follow-up on remodels. In terms of your footprint now what percent of your stores would kind of be in the larger square footage format versus more of your legacy footprint? And then I guess what percent of your stores would now be in like a larger type of market like 20,000 plus population?

Bill Walljasper

Well, the answer to your first part of that. We have about a little over 200 may be 225 stores that would have that larger footprint and that would be a combination Karen not only new store construction, but also the replacement stores. And we do replace the store and it will have that larger footprint to incorporate some of that cooler items that I mentioned.

So still it's a pretty small piece, everything we touch right now from a new store construction, or replacement even the remodel program. And also when we reincorporate acquisitions we try to get as much of that new initiatives into it like the new made-to-order sub-sandwich initiative is the extent that we can obviously with the expanded cooler presences. So it's still pretty small base at this point and expanding.

Now as far as store – the store base most of our stores are still under 3,500 population and over half of our stores are still within that period. I would say there is a little bit luck over the last five years a little bit more gravitation to what I'll call more suburban locations. So we are expanding a little bit more than that and that new stores that I previously is kind of geared towards a higher traffic type store.

We actually have two store lines, one geared to a probably higher traffic location of which is typically has a higher population and then that store that's a little bit smaller that's geared to may be a little bit smaller community.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Okay. That's helpful. And then in terms of your remodels, can you kind of give us an update on where you stand on the ROIC that you're seeing in the remodels?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. Typically the ROIC what we're seeing right now is in that first year that the remodels up and operational, we're seeing it very similar to an acquisition high single-digit after tax cash flow return second year ramping into that low double-digit. So it's right in line with the acquisitions and right now we're in the process of looking at our fiscal 2015 initiatives and how we're going to roll those out in the quantity. So stay tuned for that and we'll give a little more color in the next conference call about our goals for fiscal 2015 which that will be part of it.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Okay. And then in terms of dollar store and tobacco pricing, can you give us some color on where you think you are priced relative to some of the dollar stores that might now be offering tobacco, I mean and then may be some color on how many stores would be directly with dollar stores selling tobacco?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. And dollar generals would be the one that would be most impacted from an overlap standpoint. Right now we have about 1100, 1200s of our stores that we deem to be overlapped with dollar generals, however, when we look at our cigarette volumes in those stores relative to the rest. We really see no discernible change in our cigarette volume because of their entry into the cigarette category. We deem them as a competitor like any other convenient store, any other operator that would sell cigarette, so we monitor their pricing structures just as anybody else; I mean we do that on a monthly basis if not sooner.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

And where would they be priced versus you guys?

Bill Walljasper

It's going to be all over the board relative to what location you're at. I would say our intent with cigarettes is to be competitive on cigarette pricing, so it would surprise me if we're not competitive inline with the dollar generals' stores.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Okay. And then the last question is, what's your dollar – total dollar amount of the credit card fees?

Bill Walljasper

The total dollar amount of the credit card fees was $22.7 million.

Karen Short - Deutsche Bank

Great. Thanks. I'll get back in the queue.

Bill Walljasper

You bet.

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of Bonnie Herzog with Wells Fargo. Please proceed.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

Good morning.

Bill Walljasper

Good morning, Bonnie.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

I just have a quick follow on question on cigarette. I just want to verify something, in-light of the cigarette list price increase I was taken by the manufacturers in late 2013. Can you talk about how you handle the price increase in your stores? Did you pass on this increase to your consumers this new one? And then really how do you see the tobacco category specifically including e-cigs impacting your grocery SSS and then margins over the next few quarters?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. Well, the price increase that you're referring to as far as is going to be based on the competitive landscape on a region by region basis. So if we see our market in a particular area move, we are certainly going to make that same movement. For the most part that was a pass through. As far as e-cigarette, it's still a pretty small piece of our overall tobacco sales. We've seen a little bit of traction, but it's still a very small piece that's making not a tremendous amount of noise at this period – at this point in time.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

But on that in terms of e-cigs both Philip Morris USA and then Reynolds are rolling out their e-cig brands national this year. So I imagine it's going to become a larger portion of your business in the next calendar year?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. I think your point is well-taken and it will start creeping up as a larger contributor to the overall tobacco area.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

Okay. And then I have a question on your new stores. How long does it take for your newly constructed store to fully mature? And could you walk through the ramping of the returns you typically see on these new stores? And then in-light of your higher operating expenses in the quarter, I guess I was hoping you could walk through how much it cost to build a new store and what the magnitude of their pre-opening expenses are?

Bill Walljasper

Okay. I think I can get all of those answered here. If I fail to remember one of those please remind me all right.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

Okay.

Bill Walljasper

Okay. The first part of that to walk through a new store construction, it takes really – it's going to be a side-by-side basis obviously as you might expect, but typically its going to be anywhere from a – it's probably about a three to four year maturation process on a new store and the ramp up of that I'll kind of equate it back to returns.

As I mentioned previously, the return on an acquisition typically in the first year as a high single-digit after tax cash flow return ramping into the low double-digit in the second year. We certainly wouldn't see that type of return until the second and third year of a new store. So the little bit slower maturation process you might expect that we develop that store base or the customer base.

Now as far as the cost, again, I'll fluctuate with the land and typically about $2.8 million would be the cost in all in basis for new store and that would be for our larger footprint store, the smaller footprint store that is geared more towards slightly lower population and a slightly lower traffic count would be about 600 square foot less, excuse me 600,000 less than that. So that gives you kind of an idea. Hopefully that answers your question, did I get all of them answered?

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

Yes. I think you did. Now, that was helpful. I appreciate more color there.

Bill Walljasper

Sure.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

And then just one final quick question in terms of beverages, in-light of a continued declines in the CST category phases, I'd like to hear a little more color on what you're seeing in this category given you mentioned both beer and beverages perform well for you in the quarter, other than the coolers you mentioned, is there something else you're doing or merchandising that is causing your packaged beverage business to be so strong?

Bill Walljasper

Well, it's several things Bonnie. To answer your question, I mean still far in the quarter and year-to-date both our beer and beverage categories are up double-digit from sales perspective. It's also up double-digit from a gross profit dollar kind of perspective. So and typically those are high margin items relative to the category. So to the extent that we can increase the contribution of those areas within the Grocery and General Merchandise category, we're hopeful that we can make some traction and movement forward in the Grocery and General Merchandise margin.

But I'll clarify that too just to say, we don't manage our business to a margin, we manage your gross profit dollars. So we don't get so wrapped if we are down in the margin as long as the gross profit dollars meeting our internal expectations.

The follow-up on the final part of your question about what we're doing in that category, the combination of several things, certainly we take advantage of different promotional opportunities throughout the year. But, also when you think about what we're trying to do inside the store, we're taking our store base going from 9 cooler doors to 14 cooler doors adding a beer cave. We are increasing the opportunity at the shelf space allocation for some of these higher margin items.

So what it does for us, it gives us a greater deal of flexibility to RIN price in and out reposition shelf space allocation for products on kind of a location by location basis, that's helping us drive and manage that category.

Bonnie Herzog - Wells Fargo

Okay, very helpful. Thank you.

Bill Walljasper

Thanks Bonnie.

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of Chuck Cerankosky with Northcoast Research. Please proceed.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Good morning, everyone.

Bill Walljasper

Hi, Chuck.

Bob Myers

Good morning, Chuck.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Bob, if we could just review a couple of things that I didn't quite catch. Bill, could you talk about how many more stores during the quarter were delivering Pizza and how many more were using extended hours?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. The comments that I made with respect to the initiatives, we're more year-to-date they weren't necessarily for the quarter.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Okay.

Bill Walljasper

Yes. The numbers that I mentioned where we converted year-to-date 114 more locations to 24-hour format this year in the first nine months; 80 additional pizza delivery stores the first nine months and completed 25 major remodels. And going forward, we'll do a handful more of the 24-hours (indiscernible) fiscal years. Right now we don't have anymore slated for Pizza delivery major remodels. Right now, we're kind of circling the wagons with respect to what we plan on doing next year, but certainly I would say plan on at least similar type rollout next year in all initiatives that I just mentioned this fiscal year.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

All right. Thank you. And, when we're thinking about the second distribution center or what's good estimate of when construction would begin and when it will become operational?

Bill Walljasper

Well, I can't give you that right now. I can tell you this, within the next 30 days, we will come out with information that will give you not only the groundbreaking estimate but also cost estimate as well. In addition to the second distribution center that we refer to in this call and in prior calls, we're also looking at the expansion of our current distribution center. So we'll also talk about that and that will kick off the estimated cost for that as well. So I'd say it's kind of a two-pronged approach right now to meet the growth needs that we plan going forward.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Bill, that's a whole separate project not an option, you'll expand this first one as well as build the second.

Bill Walljasper

Yes. Yes. We'll do those concurrently together. So we'll have the addition of the current distribution center done prior to obviously the second distribution center for smaller project, but yes those will be done simultaneously with one being completed prior.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Okay. And then to take a look at your customer attitudes at this point in a slow economic recovery, are there any signs that they're trading up or seeking more convenience more amenable to making an extra stop, that kind of thing?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. I'm not sure – I have a tremendous color and I can tell you our customer count at same-store basis has been very solid this year-to-date and throughout the quarter. And we're seeing anywhere from working low single-digit to middle single-digit for almost every month that we have, actually the fuel saver program is helping that as well.

I know I eluded to February same-store sales that coming out Monday, but I would say we will not disappoint anybody on February same-store sales when they're released. So that gives me the indication to answer your question that our customers are still coming and visiting our stores across all categories of our business.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

Do you feel that reflects a bit more strength in the economy, or the merchandising initiatives, can you turn it down at all?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. That's a little bit hard. I'm not sure I can say it strengthened the economy. I'm not sure anybody could say that given what we're seeing right now. But, I think the mindset in the Midwest given what we have to offer the company, there are a lot of stable items, a lot of items that are part of their everyday habits, which they tend not to give up during more difficult times and we're seeing that right now – have been seeing that for sometime, we're seeing a nice movement in the store [battling] (ph) just slightly as we go forward. So I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing on board right now.

Chuck Cerankosky - Northcoast Research

All right. Thank you.

Bill Walljasper

Thank you.

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of John Lawrence with Stephens Inc. Please proceed.

Ben Bienvenu - Stephens Inc.

Yes, good morning guys. This is actually Ben on for John.

Bill Walljasper

Hey, Ben.

Bob Myers

Good morning, Ben.

Ben Bienvenu - Stephens Inc.

I just wanted to quickly touch on the margins in the Prepared Food category, obviously meat and higher cheese cost like it could be a continued headwinds. But, I wanted to ask about the supply costs that we've seen in each of the last few quarters, if you expect those to continue to be a headwind, or if we should start to see those cost update somewhat?

Bill Walljasper

We had a supply cost, I think we alluded to that maybe in the last quarter, the supply cost went up last quarter, we also had some other issues like the meat, I mentioned in the last quarter. Right now, we're not seeing any supply cost, typically we see supply cost increases towards the end of the calendar year, difficult time we see these type of movements there. But, that said, we wouldn't anticipate that, but that's part of the budgeting process as we look at fiscal 2015 and try to incorporate those types of cost when we put out our margins first for goals next fiscal year. But the input cost achieved as I mentioned certainly are up, that $2.50 I can't say right here that's a record high, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's not a record high, it's near record.

Ben Bienvenu - Stephens Inc.

Okay. Thanks. That's helpful. Secondly, could you talk a little about new market performance or consultancy you're so pleased with how stores are performing there? And then maybe touch on the comparatives that you see there in opportunities?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. I mean overall, I mean we were very pleased with the new markets. Obviously, you'll have a store here and there that may not fire off as quick as others. But overall, we've been very well received in the new states and those states will be Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky. We’re going to be making a bigger splash coming up here at the beginning of the fiscal year in the North Dakota.

So we're excited about that. The acquisition of Stop-n-Go is a very well-respected chain up in the Fargo area. So we're excited about taking that on and hopefully enhancing that change presence out there as well. So we're encouraged by that, once the second distribution center gets up and operational again that will be a way down the road.

I think that does give us an opportunity to efficiently expand further at East and like for instance Tennessee and Kentucky and some of the other states that I've mentioned. So I think we're positioned very well, also in-light of all the construction activity in sites that we have under contract.

Ben Bienvenu - Stephens Inc.

Great. Thanks. And then just lastly, could you talk about the replacement store performance, similar trends you're seeing there and what impact that's happening in the business?

Bill Walljasper

Yes, replacement stores I mean, we'll probably do 20, 25 kind of on a regular basis going forward as part of our process refresh, make sure we're always on top of our sites. We don't want competition coming into our sites and we want to enhance our sites.

Having said that, the replacement stores when we typically replace the store in the first year after its up and operating. We generally see about 100% lift in the Prepared Food revenue and about 50% lift in the gallon growth and 50% lift in the Grocery and General Merchandise revenue. From an ROIC perspective, incrementally it's the gamut. In the first year where we usually see a mid single-digit after tax cash on return incrementally and it ramps up after that. Keep in mind, we're replacing store that are a very good performers. It's not just we are replacing stores that are not performing or underperforming.

Ben Bienvenu - Stephens Inc.

All right. Thanks guys.

Bill Walljasper

You bet.

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of Ben Brownlow with Raymond James. Please proceed.

Ben Brownlow - Raymond James

Hi, good morning. The store openings or acquisitions the 32 that you had under contract with 24 Stop-n-Go next fiscal year. Is it fair to assume that eight then will finalize this fiscal quarter?

Bill Walljasper

Some will finalize this fiscal quarter, most of them probably early in the first quarter of next year.

Ben Brownlow - Raymond James

Okay. And do most have kitchens?

Bill Walljasper

Most of the acquisitions that we take over do not have kitchens. And that's one of the processes as you know from a synergy perspective that we add. We shouldn't get a kitchen into an acquisition sometime around that eighth or and ninth month after we have that up and operational, sometimes it all depends on what we have going on and time of the year.

Ben Brownlow - Raymond James

Okay. Great. And then just – can you give us an update on the Pizza Express?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. Really, we just have one store right now that opened last August, so we don't have a full year of that. The revenue generated from the Pizza Express has been very good. We see get a handle on the operating expenses because it does take quite a bit to operate one of those with obviously Pizza's extra delivery workers and kitchen workers.

So look for us to do some of the R&D work and I think it's an avenue that I think it is very viable. We seem to find the right locations. We're looking at locations right now to expand that and continue that research and development of that program so not much more we can report at this time.

Ben Brownlow - Raymond James

Great. Thank you.

Bill Walljasper

Thanks Ben.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) And your next question comes from the line of Ronald Bookbinder with The Benchmark Company. Please proceed.

Ronald Bookbinder – The Benchmark Company

Good morning.

Bill Walljasper

Hey, Ron.

Ronald Bookbinder – The Benchmark Company

On the new distribution center, why you can't give us a date as to when you would expect to open? Once you do break ground, how long do you think the construction process will be?

Bill Walljasper

Maybe 12 to 18 months.

Ronald Bookbinder – The Benchmark Company

Okay. And how long do you think it will be until it's accretive with the reduction of stem mileage?

Bill Walljasper

Well, we think that once we get that up and operational that we should see some operational efficiencies in the first year of operation because the stem miles dropped dramatically. As you may know, I mean right now we have three-day truck routes, got a two or three-day truck routes, those will be relatively eliminated with the second distribution center and just one-day and two-day truck routes. And it's not just the miles driven, it's also the expenses of the drivers, we don’t have a sleeper units in our tractors so we pay for the expense of meals and overnights and hotels for our drivers, so that's an other big expense that needs to be factored in.

Ronald Bookbinder – The Benchmark Company

Okay. And with the new distribution center and the expansion of the existing one, how much do you think you can increase your store capacity for the distribution centers?

Bill Walljasper

Well, I probably wouldn't articulate that in a number of stores as far as it can hold another x number of stores simply because the stores that we are putting up right now are much larger stores. They have a much higher sales – greater sales volume in the store base. So I probably would articulate it in a number of years, again, that will fluctuate depending on growth. But, the next probably four or five years, we probably start to thinking about a third distribution center.

Ronald Bookbinder – The Benchmark Company

Okay. And lastly, what was Casey's modeling for RIN credit when you set your goal of $0.15, and will RINs be a headwind next year?

Bill Walljasper

Well, I wouldn't be able to tell you specifically the RINs that we model into the margin going forward, but I can tell you this Ron, when we made that margin goal for fiscal 2014 that was done back in April before really the RINs market really exploded over the course of the summer. So certainly didn't anticipate that in the margin.

Now, going forward, where RINs will fall out, it's hard to say EPA had still yet to come out with a definitive answer as to where they will take their standards, or do anything with the standards. I think you saw a drop in the RINs value this past fall that was due to a comment that EPA made that they might be looking at easing the standards going forward.

I believe there has been a slight retraction in that comment here recently which is why you probably see the RINs coming up in that $0.50 to $0.55 range whether they stay at that range, or get back to that dollar plus range a year ago truly hard for us to predict. And for us, we don't necessarily manage our business with that but it’s really a nice windfall there. So we will be very clear on how RINs will impact us going forward. We will be clear when we put out the margin goals for fiscal 2015, how much RINs benefit will be incorporated into that.

Ronald Bookbinder – The Benchmark Company

Okay. Thank you very much and good luck going forward.

Bill Walljasper

Thanks Ron.

Bob Myers

And (indiscernible).

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of Anthony Lebiedzinski [Sidoti & Company]. Please proceed.

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

Good morning. Just wondering, given the higher cheese costs and some other additional input increase that you have seen, just wondering if you were contemplating some price increases in your stores to offset the potential of this?

Bill Walljasper

The answer would be yes. Right now, we are looking at a number of products within the Prepared Food category to offset some of the commodity inputs that we discussed not only in this call but prior calls. So that has been formulated now, wouldn't look forward that to rollout until start of the fiscal year. But definitely we are looking at opportunities there. I think and we believe there are opportunities.

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

And then also, when you look at your store base, how many of your stores do you think potentially down the road could be open on a 24-hour basis, and how many also do you think potentially in the future will also have pizza delivery?

Bill Walljasper

That's a good quarter Anthony. I mean right now we have 700 – a little over 700 stores that operate 24 hours and many of the store probably at least over half of the stores that we're opening now, we're opening this 24 hour stores having for last couple of years. The 24-hour initiative is one of the initiatives, it doesn't cost us anything it's the change in operation, so if it doesn't work we have the ability to convert back to a different hour basis.

And so look for us to continue to push that out to where we find inflection point. I don't think we're there yet and anticipate rolling out more 24-hour locations next year probably similar to what we did this year. So it's hard to say but definitely not where we're at right now.

As far as the pizza delivery we have about 350 stores roughly delivering pizza, we'll probably do a similar roll out of pizza delivery next year. It works very well in some locations not so well in other locations. And again, this is – we typically don't have a lot of investment, any investment in the pizza delivery so it's another one of those initiatives that we have the ability to pullback if we don't see it moving in the right direction.

So I think there is still a lot of opportunity in both those areas. And then the remodels, I know you didn't ask the question but on the initiatives, the remodels we only have about 230 of those that we’ve completed. And Performance continues to do well. So I think we have a longer runway on the remodel program than we do any of the initiatives. And so now that does have obviously CapEx associated with it somewhere in that 450,000 to 500,000 range at the present time. And so we're looking at that initiative as well most likely to move forward.

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

So as far as the pizza delivery, when you say similar type of program next year – are you, do you mean like 80 or so new stores will have pizza delivery?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. I don't, yes, 80 to 100 may be somewhere in that range we haven't pinpointed that down could be a little bit less that could be a little more than that. We're still refining where the next batch is going to be.

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

And I was wondering, if you've seen any response from any of your competitors, or any of your other competing c-stores, are they perhaps doing pizza delivery as well, or just wondering what you're seeing from the competition?

Bill Walljasper

I'm not aware that there is any widespread movement to add pizza delivery. I mean very few of those c-stores in our market that would offer pizza, or any prepared foods outside of quick serve restaurant co-brand. And so right now we're not seeing any pressure from our competition with respect to the pizza delivery.

Anthony Lebiedzinski - Sidoti & Company

Okay. Got it. All right thank you very much.

Bill Walljasper

Good Anthony. Have a good one.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) And your next question comes from the line of Brent Rystrom with Feltl. Please proceed.

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

Thanks good morning.

Bill Walljasper

Good morning, Brent.

Bob Myers

Good morning.

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

Just couple of questions, I missed the first two minutes of the call. Did you make any comments on coffee supplies and pricing?

Bill Walljasper

We did not but I can answer that question. As you probably are in tune with the coffee market has been very good from a cost perspective. We were locked in to coffee through March. We have now locked in coffee into the middle of the summer at a similar rate that we had previously and so we're excited about that opportunity.

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

So does that imply, I mean would you be thinking of taking some price increases there because when you look at what's happening with the drought in Brazil, I've got to imagine that's answering you're thinking about where supply and pricing is going to fall and winter next year?

Bill Walljasper

Yes. I mean right now, I mean coffee wouldn't be an area that we're looking at, at this point. We think a greater opportunity some of the other products that we offer in Prepared Food basis. However, given you're – you make very good point that's something that we're looking at under a constant basis and coffee is one of those products that we see at the key product one from a pricing perspective.

So from a competitive landscape that is one that we are very in tune with in our market area. So if we see movement there, we will certainly make that movement as well. And we'll let you know when that happens.

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

All right. Then one final question. Could you clarify a little bit of your comments about the performance of new stores, I think you said you don't see that high-single digit return until your two or three, and then the double-digit return shortly thereafter. So I'm assuming first year return on a store might be breakeven, is it profitable, how would you define that?

Bill Walljasper

I think that's a fair statement runs the gamut on site-by-site basis. But, I think that's a fair statement.

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

And the negative EBITDA kind of that first quarter transition just slightly profitable by the end of the year?

Bill Walljasper

That will be in that direction again site-by-site. But yes, you are in that direction.

Brent Rystrom - Feltl

All right. Thanks guys.

Operator

Okay. And there are no further questions. I will now turn the call back over to Walljasper for further remarks.

Bill Walljasper

Thanks Britney. I would like to thank everyone for joining us this morning. Have a great week. Take care.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the presentation for today's conference. You may now all disconnect and have a wonderful day.

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