TA’s net loss of $14.2 million for the first quarter of 2012 reflected an improvement of $2.4 million as compared to the net loss in the 2011 first quarter. TA’s results also reflected improvement in EBITDAR, which increased by $5.2 million, or 11.6%, in the 2012 first quarter compared to the 2011 first quarter. TA’s fuel sales volume increased by 11.8 million gallons, or 2.4%, in the 2012 first quarter compared to the 2011 first quarter. During the first quarter of 2012, TA experienced a 0.5% decrease in same site fuel sales volume, compared with the first quarter of 2011. TA believes this decrease is a result, in part, of capital projects in 2012 to replace fuel dispensers and install diesel exhaust fluid dispensers that required TA to take certain diesel dispensers out of service during the period. Nonfuel revenues for the 2012 first quarter increased $22.8 million, or 8.0%, above the 2011 first quarter. Total gross margin increased $13.8 million, or 6.1% in the 2012 first quarter above the 2011 first quarter. The improved results in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 2011 resulted, in large part, from the travel centers opened since April 1, 2011, increased fuel margin per gallon and increased customer spending on nonfuel products and services in TA’s travel centers.
The trucking industry is the primary customer for TA’s goods and services. Freight and trucking demand in the U.S. has historically reflected the level of commercial activity in the U.S. economy. The slow but continual improvement of the U.S. economy generally, and the improving financial condition and increased activity of the trucking industry in the U.S. specifically, impacted TA’s financial results during the 2012 first quarter.
Capital Expenditures and LiquidityDuring the three months ended March 31, 2012, we made capital investments of $33.9 million for improvements to existing travel centers and of $0.9 million to improve the eight travel centers we acquired during 2011. In March 2012 we purchased a travel center for $5.6 million. During the quarter ended March 31, 2012, TA sold to Hospitality Properties Trust, or HPT, $13.1 million of improvements at sites leased from HPT which resulted in increased rent due to HPT under the lease terms.