New Builds to Expand SuperAmerica Network

TEMPE, Ariz. — Northern Tier Energy LP will "continue to expand its retail footprint" in 2015, President and CEO Dave Lamp stated during Thursday's 2014 fourth-quarter earnings call.

The company's board of directors approved the construction of three new company-operated SuperAmerica locations. Northern Tier will also add 14 franchise locations this year, the chief executive noted. The locations of these stores were not revealed.

The master limited partnership had 89 franchised locations and 165 company-operated sites as of Dec. 31. That compares to 164 company-operated sites and 75 franchise locations as of Dec. 31, 2013.

In its most recent quarter, SuperAmerica stores earned retail operating income of $11.8 million, more than five times the $2.2-million profit achieved in 2013's fourth quarter.

Fuel margins per gallon were a main reason retail sales were strong in the most recent quarter, rising 9 cents per gallon to 28 cents per gallon. 

"Retail had a great quarter," Lamp remarked.

The company was also impressed with an aggregate of fuel gallons sold at company-operated stores plus fuel gallons sold to franchisee stores increasing 3.4 percent for the year ended Dec. 31. This same figure also increased by 5.9 percent when comparing 2013 to 2012.

One area of slight decline was merchandise sales, which dipped by $2 million year over year to $82 million in Northern Tier's 2014 fourth quarter. Merchandise gross margins also dipped slightly to 26.3 percent.

Companywide, Tempe-based Northern Tier Energy reported adjusted net income of $89.6 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $22.2 million in the year-ago period.

SuperAmerica stores primarily operate in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with one store in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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