Normally, a real estate sale wouldn't warrant a lot of consideration, but the resulting reduction in expenses and outstanding debt should please investors. With a reduced burden, the firm felt confident enough to bump up 2004 earnings expectations to the $0.86 to $0.90 per-share range from $0.85 to $0.88. Even at the low end of the increased range, that's a 48% jump from last year's $0.58 per share.
7-Eleven long has been an innovator in the convenience store space. Last year, the company completed the rollout of its Vcom electronic kiosks, which provide automated check-cashing, money orders, ATM services, access to Verizon
Nor is 7-Eleven, which already seems ubiquitous, done expanding. The company maintains that there is still room to grow in existing markets and intends to add 100 new stores in 2004. Internationally, it will begin to develop stores in Beijing and the surrounding area this spring as part of a joint venture.
7-Eleven's debt has been a blight on an otherwise bright picture, with long-term debt amounting to $1.4 billion at the end of last year. Although the $110 million debt reduction from the sale won't take a big bite out of that amount, it's a good start.
What's your favorite treat from a 7-Eleven? Will the company continue to differentiate itself from the quick-serve competition? Give your thoughts on the Fool's 7-Eleven discussion board.
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Ill. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned here.