TravelCenters of America (TCA) is in the fuel, food, and relaxation business for the long haul. The company's network of more than 250 interstate highway travel centers in more than 43 US states and Ontario, Canada, is one of the largest of its kind in North America. Its TCA and Petro locations provide fuel, fast-food and sit-down restaurants (Country Pride, Buckhorn Family), convenience stores, and lodging. With professional truck drivers as its main customers, some outlets also offer "trucker-only" services, such as laundry and shower facilities, TV rooms, and truck repair. TCA leases 184 of its locations from
Hospitality Properties Trust
(HPT), its largest shareholder.
As part of its business, TCA operates and franchises travel centers under two brands: TravelCenters of America with more than 170 locations and Petro Stopping Centers (acquired in 2007) with more than 75 locations, about 60 of which are company-operated. TCA also operates "RoadSquad," the largest nationwide emergency roadside service network, with more than 430 heavy-duty emergency vehicles.
While TCA offers food to fuel truck drivers and motorists, about 79% of the company's revenue comes from the sale of fuel for vehicles. The rest comes from human food and other items sold in it stores.
The Travel Centers segment contributed 93% of TCA's total revenues 2015.
The Convenience Stores segment (6%) operates convenience stores with retail gasoline stations, primarily under the Minit Mart brand name, are not located at a travel center.
The company operates and franchises 456 travel center and convenience store locations in the US and Canada.
Sales and Marketing
TCA caters to professional truck drivers and travelers who rely on gas stations and convenience stores while on the road. Customers include trucking fleets and their drivers, independent truck drivers, and motorists.
The company's net revenues have been decreasing over the last five years (2011-15), except for an increase in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2015, TCA's revenues dropped by 25% due to a decrease in travel centers revenues (driven by declines in market prices for fuel and partially offset by an increase in nonfuel revenues).
Net income decreased by 55% due to lower net revenues, an increase in site level operating expenses (primarily due to the locations acquired during 2014 and 2015 and a recognized loss on extinguishment of debt in 2015, related to the purchase of five travel centers).
In 2015 TCA's operating cash inflow decreased by 15%.
The company is building its cross-country network of travel centers through acquisitions (by opportunistically buying up smaller competitors) and by opening new locations.
In 2016, the company opened a new travel center in Wilmington, Illinois.
In 2015 TCA opened a new TA Truck Service facility in Columbia, South Carolina, and a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens restaurant in Lincoln and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Coachella, California.
With fuel accounting for such a large portion of its total sales (79% in 2014), TCA is vulnerable to wild swings in prices. (About 90% of TCA's historical fuel sales are diesel, while 10% are gasoline. The company sells biodiesel at some locations and to offer liquefied natural gas (LNG) at an expanded number of locations in 2015.)
Mergers and Acquisitions
TCA in 2015 agreed to acquire Quaker Steak & Lube casual dining restaurants and other assets, including existing restaurant operations, restaurant franchise program and bottled sauces for retail sale business, for $25 million. Quaker Steak & Lube has more than 50 locations, most of them franchised, in 16 states, mostly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. TCA plans to convert some of its full service restaurants to the Quaker Steak & Lube brand and expand the number of franchises and the number of stand-alone company restaurants.
In 2015 the company also acquired five convenience stores in Illinois, four in Kansas and Missouri, 10 in Ohio, and additional convenience stores in Kentucky.