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TravelCenters of America 2Q profit up 37 percent

WESTLAKE, Ohio (AP) -- Truck-stop operator TravelCenters of America LLC said Tuesday its second-quarter profit jumped 37 percent, boosted by sales at newer locations, improved profit margins on fuel and increased customer spending on other products.

The company reported net income of $29.9 million, or $1.04 per share, in the April-June quarter. That's up from $21.8 million, or $1 per share, in the same quarter last year.

A big jump in the number of outstanding shares compared with last year limited the increase in per-share earnings.

Analysts, on average, were expecting profit of 88 cents per share.

The income gain occurred despite a nearly 3 percent decline in revenue, to $2.04 billion from $2.09 billion a year earlier. TravelCenters said a decrease in the volume of fuel sales was partly due to carrying out projects such as replacing fuel dispensers that put some of them out of service during the quarter.

Citi analyst Susan Anderson called the results solid, and kept a "Buy" rating on the shares.

She said in a note to investors that she continues to expect the stock to gain, noting that once the company brings recently-purchased locations under its umbrella, sales should increase.

Anderson raised her forecast for full-year profit to $1.28 per share, from $1.17. On average, analysts expect $1.06 per share, according to FactSet.

Westlake, Ohio-based TravelCenters, which operates under the TA and Petro brand names, relies heavily on the trucking industry for its business. That took a toll on its finances in the past, but as the economy and the trucking industry have slowly improved, so have its results.

TravelCenters shares rose 34 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $5.52 in afternoon trading. The shares have traded between $2.79 and $6.84 in the past 52 weeks.