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Monro Muffler Brake sets financial records

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Monro Muffler Brake Inc. recorded net income of $45.8 million on net sales of $636.7 million for its fiscal year 2011 ended March 26, 2011. That compares to income of $33.2 million on sales of $564.6 million for fiscal 2010.

Both net income and sales totals were yearly records.

Comparable store sales increased 4.2% for the year, the 10th consecutive year the company’s comparable store sales increased.

Gross margin was 40.4% for fiscal 2011, compared to 40.9% in the prior year. Monro says the decrease in gross margin as a percentage of sales “is largely due to an increase in material costs related to the shift in mix to the lower margin tire sales category, resulting from a full year of sales from the fiscal year 2010 acquired stores.”

Operating income for the year increased 32.3%, to $78.4 million.

After closing two locations during the fourth quarter, Monro Muffler Brake ended its fiscal 2011 with 781 stores.

That total will change quickly in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 (see “Monro buys 24-store Vespia Tire chain”).

For the fourth quarter, Monro posted net income of $8.2 million on sales of $150.8 million, both quarterly records. That compared to income of $5.9 million on sales of $147.2 million for 4Q fiscal 2010.

Comparable store sales for the quarter were flat, negatively impacted by weather and rising gas prices. Comparable store sales increased approximately 5% for exhaust and 3% for maintenance services; they were down close to 2% for tires and brakes.

“The record results we achieved in the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011 demonstrate the strength and consistency of our business model,” says Chairman and CEO Robert Gross. “Importantly, our position in the marketplace allows us flexibility to pull different levers to improve our performance, and we believe that this will continue to be an advantage going forward.”

(For an outsider’s viewpoint, click on “Acquisition strategy helps Monro thrive.”)

The company’s board of directors declared a cash dividend for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 of eight cents per share on its outstanding shares of common stock. The dividend is payable on June 17, 2011, to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 7, 2011.

Monro estimates its 53-week fiscal 2012 sales will fall between $690 million and $705 million, with comparable store sales growth of anywhere from 4% to 6%.

“While we continue to have a positive outlook, we anticipate that we will experience more moderate organic earnings growth in fiscal 2012, although growth from acquisitions will be accelerated," says Gross.

"Specifically, we believe that rising gas prices and the macroeconomic environment will weigh on consumer sentiment and purchasing behavior. Historically, we have leveraged our strong business model and position as a low cost and trusted service provider."

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