UPDATE 1-Pantry Q4 profit beats on lower expenses; shares rise

Wed Dec 2, 2009 9:48am EST

* Q4 EPS $0.60 vs est $0.39

* Q4 rev. $1.82 bln vs est $1.81 bln

* Sees FY 10 merchandise margins of 33 pct to 34.5 pct

* Shares up 7 percent

Dec 2 (Reuters) - Convenience store operator Pantry Inc's (PTRY.O) fourth-quarter earnings handily beat Wall Street estimates aided by a 28 percent fall in operating expenses, sending shares up 7 percent.

For the fourth quarter ended Sept. 24, the company posted a net profit of $13.3 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with $22.9 million, or $1.03, a year ago.

Total revenue fell 28 percent to $1.82 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn 39 cents, before special items, on revenue of $1.81 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For 2010, the company, which operates stores under banners like Kangaroo Express, expects merchandise sales of between $1.76 billion to $1.82 billion and merchandise gross margin of 33 percent to 34.5 percent.

The company reported merchandise gross margin of 35.4 percent for 2009.

Shares of the Cary, North Carolina-based company were trading up 7 percent at $16.00 in morning trade on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Anthony Kurian) ((abhishek.takle@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800; Reuters messaging: abhishek.takle.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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