Vehicle fuel consumption in Middle America is on the rise, a sign people are comfortable traveling instead of staying close to home because of the pandemic, an earnings report released this week by an Ankeny-based company shows.

“Same-store gallons sold were up significantly in the back half of the [fourth] quarter,” according to a news release on the company’s earnings.

Casey’s General Stores Inc., the convenience store chain whose headquarters is in Ankeny, sold 535.2 million gallons of gasoline in its fourth quarter that ended on April 30, according to the company’s quarterly and annual earnings report that was released this week. The fourth-quarter gas sales were 6.4% higher than the 487.7 million gallons sold during the same period a year ago, at the start of the countrywide economic shutdown caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

For the fiscal year that ended on April 30, Casey’s sold 2.1 billion gallons of fuel, down 8.1% from the 2.2 billion sold the previous fiscal year, according to the report.

Total gross profit in fuel sales increased nearly 24% to $761.2 million for the fiscal year, compared with $614.8 million the previous year, the report shows. Overall, diluted earnings per share for the fiscal year that ended April 30 were $8.38, an all-time high, the company reported. In fiscal 2020, diluted earnings were $7.10 per share.

Casey’s reported total revenue of $8.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended April 30, down from fiscal 2019's overall revenue of $9.1 billion.

During the year, Casey’s completed its acquisition of Buchanan Energy, owner of Bucky’s Convenience Stores, and expects to close on its acquisition of Circle K sometime in June. The acquisition of Bucky’s expands Casey’s presence in the Midwest, particularly in Nebraska and Illinois.

However, Casey’s is divesting of six stores as part of the consent order the company agreed to with the Federal Trade Commission, after the convenience store was charged with violating federal antitrust law. The federal agency’s order became final this week. The final order requires Casey’s to divest of three Casey’s stores and three Bucky’s stores to Western Oil II, LLC and its affiliate Danco II, LLC within 10 days after Casey’s completes the acquisition.

To read the news release on Casey’s fourth-quarter and annual earnings, click here.