Convenience store chain Casey’s General Stores Inc., known for its pizza and other prepared foods, reported higher earnings per share in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period the year before.

Earnings per share at Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s totaled $1.90 for the quarter ending July 31, up from $1.46 the year before.

“The combination of recent investments made in expanding our store count, a more proactive strategic pricing approach in all areas of the business, continued focus on reducing labor hours inside the stores, the favorable impacts of tax reform, and share repurchases contributed to strong diluted earnings per share growth," says Terry Handley, Casey’s president and CEO. "We continue to invest in the Value Creation Plan that we believe will drive long-term shareholder value, and we remain on track to begin realizing benefits in the second half of fiscal 2019."

Same-store sales for the quarter in Casey’s Prepared Food and Fountain category rose 1.7 percent in the quarter, with an average margin of 62 percent.

"Our prepared food category showed significant improvement from fourth quarter and moderate growth overall, including particularly strong results in the breakfast daypart," says Handley. "These results helped offset some softness in our bakery category. Overall, our increased investment in pizza promotions did not significantly affect our margin. Combining those promotions with other pricing strategies produced a margin at the top end of our guidance for the quarter."