TravelCenters of America Continues Acquisition Spree

WESTLAKE, Ohio -- TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) has and will continue to steadily purchase more travel centers, company CEO Thomas O'Brien said during TA’s third-quarter earnings call today.

Despite what the chief executive dubbed an "uncertain U.S. economy," TA scooped up five travel centers for $22 million in its latest quarter, ended Sept. 30.

The chain followed that up in October with the purchase of an additional three travel centers for $14 million, O'Brien reported. He expects those three transactions to close in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2013.

O'Brien noted, however, that TA has not seen any multi-site travel center acquisition opportunities.

"Every [location] we have purchased has been a single-site purchase," he said. "Each one is a separate deal where we need to work with a separate owner."

Aside from acquisitions, another focus for the company in its latest quarter was offering branded gasoline at TA's sites, mostly under the Valero and Shell banners. O'Brien expects all but two of TA's 192 travel centers to offer branded fuel by the end of the year.

Overall, TA earned a net profit of $19 million for its Q3, compared to a profit of $20.8 million its 2011 third quarter. Despite the decline in earnings, the CEO said he was pleased with the quarter despite "challenges," and is excited about the company's future.

As for Superstorm Sandy, nine TA sites had to be shut down for a few days, according to O'Brien. He added that he does not yet know what economic impact the temporary closings will have on TA's Q4 results, but he is not expecting a huge negative impact.

TravelCenters of America LLC operates sites under the TA and Petro brands in 41 states and Canada.

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