C-store operator The Pantry has affirmed its earnings guidance ranges for the 2008 fiscal year, but said it expects third-quarter earnings per share to be down on the corresponding period a year ago.

However, earnings per share for the fiscal third quarter to 26 June 2008 are expected to be below the corresponding period a year ago, the company said. But it said it expected third-quarter earnings per share to exceed the current First Call consensus estimate of $0.23.

The North Carolina-based retailer said it expects merchandise and retail gasoline sales for 2008 to be within the ranges of US$1.6bn to $1.7bn and 2.1bn to 2.2bn gallons, respectively. The merchandise gross profit margin is expected to be approximately 37%, the company added.

The Pantry, which operates 1,660 stores in 11 states under a number of fascias, said it also continues to expect fiscal 2008 store operating and general and administrative expenses to be at the low end of the previously announced range of $615 to $630m.