"Monro's strong competitive positioning and solid operating discipline drove higher product margins and operating expense leverage, further supported by the strong performance of our recent acquisitions," he added.
For the six-month period, operating income jumped 6.9 percent to $67.3 million on 15.6-percent higher sales of $556.8 million. Revenue from new stores accounted for nearly all of the sales gain.
During the quarter Monro completed the previously announced acquisitions of 20 stores in existing markets of Michigan, Illinois and Indiana, including eight from an existing Car-X franchisee.
The acquisitions are expected to add approximately $13 million in annualized sales, representing a sales mix of 95 percent service and 5 percent tires, and are expected to be break-even in fiscal 2018. A dozen of these stores will operate under the Monro name and the remaining eight will continue to operate under the Car-X brand.
Based on current sales, business and economic trends and recently completed acquisitions, Monro said it anticipates fiscal 2018 sales will be in the range of $1.12 billion to $1.15 billion, an increase of 9 to 12 percent over fiscal 2017 sales.
Fiscal 2018 diluted earnings per share guidance should be in the range of $1.95 to $2.10, down slightly from the previously disclosed range of $2.05 to $2.20.
In his prepared comments, Mr. Ponton said he's "very optimistic" about the opportunities that lie ahead for Monro.
"I've begun a thorough business assessment and have identified a number of strategic priorities which I believe will drive long-term organic growth," he said. "Coupled with the continued execution of Monro's acquisition and greenfield strategy, I'm confident that we can build upon this strong foundation and drive value for our shareholders."
Monro hired Mr. Ponton, formerly CEO of AAMCO Transmissions & Total Car Care's parent company and a former Goodyear vice president, in late June to succeed John Van Heel as CEO. He joined Monro in August and took the CEO title officially Oct. 1.