~ Third Quarter Sales Increase 14% to a Record $216.7 Million ~ ~ Third Quarter Net Income Increases 36% to a Record $15.3 Million; EPS of $.47 vs $.35 Prior Year Ahead of the Company's Estimated Range of $.41 to $.46 ~ ~ Increases Estimated Fiscal 2014 EPS Range to $1.63 to $1.66 from Previous Range of $1.58 to $1.65 ~ ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 28, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Monro Muffler Brake, Inc. (Nasdaq:MNRO), a leading provider of automotive undercar repair and tire services, today announced financial results for its third quarter ended December 28, 2013. Third Quarter Results Sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 increased 13.8% to a record $216.7 million as compared to $190.4 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2013. The sales increase for the third quarter was due primarily to an increase in sales from new stores and a comparable store sales increase of .3%. Comparable store sales increased approximately 2% for brakes and 1% for tires, while comparable store sales decreased approximately 1% for maintenance, front end/shocks and exhaust, and 4% for alignments. Gross margin improved to 38.0% in the third quarter from 36.6% in the prior year due to reduced product costs and payroll control, as well as leverage of distribution and occupancy costs, which overcame a sales mix shift to the tire category primarily related to recently-acquired stores. Total operating expenses were $55.4 million, or 25.6% of sales, as compared with $50.8 million, or 26.7% of sales, for the same period of the prior year. The decrease in operating expenses as a percent of sales is due to leverage from higher overall sales and focused cost control. Operating income for the quarter increased 43.0% to $26.9 million from $18.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013. Interest expense was $3.2 million as compared to $1.5 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013.