BJ’s profit jumps 52% in 2Q

HUNTINGTON BEACH Calif. BJ’s Restaurants Inc., continuing to defy the odds against it as the recession lingers, on Thursday reported a 52-percent increase in profit and touted the continuing growth of the 85-unit chain.

While other casual-dining companies are aggressively cutting costs and putting growth plans on hold, BJ’s said it continued to invest in its brand during the second quarter, rolling out a comprehensive menu overhaul, expanding beer offerings on tap, and testing a new kitchen display system. Three new BJ’s restaurants have opened so far this year, and another seven are under construction.

“While some casual-dining concepts have adopted a ‘save your way to success’ strategy during the current recession, we continue to make prudent investments to further strengthen BJ’s competitive positioning as a higher quality, more differentiated and less ‘commoditized’ casual-dining concept at a good value for the consumer,” said Jerry Deitchle, chairman and chief executive of the Huntington Beach-based chain.

For the quarter ended June 30, BJ’s reported net income of $4.4 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, compared with $2.9 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, in the prior-year quarter. The company also reported a 20-percent increase in net income in its first quarter.

Same-store sales were down 1.3 percent for the second quarter — reflecting a 4.3-percent decline in traffic that was offset by a 3-percent price increase — compared with an increase of 0.6 percent the same quarter last year.

However, officials noted that the same-store sales decline was not bad considering 46 of 67 units used for such comparisons are in the particularly hard-hit markets of California, Arizona and Florida.

Revenues for the quarter were up 17 percent to $107.7 million, compared to $92.2 million the prior year.

Deitchle noted that BJ’s has beefed up marketing efforts, but has so far avoided offering discounts.

Instead, the company has been promoting new and existing items as everyday values, such as the current lunch specials, as well as offering guests incentives to try new features, such as the company’s online-ordering system.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [3]