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Monro will buy back shares to finance potential acquisitions

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Monro Muffler Brake Inc. has been authorized by its board to repurchase up to $30 million in common stock, which "gives us the flexibility to be strategic with our capital" and take advantage of acquisition opportunities, says Monro CEO and President Robert Gross.

Monro's priority "remains seeking attractively priced acquisitions," Gross explained during a recent conference call.

"We will evaluate purchasing our own stock the same way we assess acquisitions... we will be opportunistic." (Monro also has extended its existing credit facility to January 2012.)

Gross told analysts that Monro's Procare Automotive Service Solutions LLC stores, which the Rochester, N.Y.-based chain acquired in May 2006, "are making steady progress. We held grand re-openings in November; the response was positive. We continue to invest in store staffing."

Gross also said that tires now represent 10% of total sales at Monro Muffler & Brake service shops, up from around 8% the previous year. "We are working on refreshing our tire sales and training" in those locations.

Earlier this week, Monro reported that its third quarter sales rose 15% to a record $103.8 million, while its third quarter net income reached $4.9 million, also a Monro record. Monro's third quarter ended Dec. 23, 2006.

Monro is the fourth largest independent tire store chain in the United States with more than 110 retail outlets, according to Modern Tire Dealer research.

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