Brinker expects earnings drop in 2nd Q

DALLAS Brinker International Inc., operator or franchisor of 1,827 restaurants, including the 1,383-unit Chili’s Grill and Bar, said Monday that a 2.1-percent drop in blended, corporate same-store sales would lead to a per-share earnings drop of as much as 9 percent for the second quarter ended Dec. 26.

The company said it expected to post earnings of between 30 cents and 31 cents per share from continuing operations, compared with earnings of 33 cents per share from continuing operations in the second quarter of last year. Full results are expected Jan. 23.

The reduced earnings were blamed on quarterly same-store sales decreases of 2.4 percent at Chili’s and 4.3 percent at On the Border. Same-store sales inched up 1.7 percent at Maggiano’s Little Italy. Because Brinker has slated for sale the 241-unit Romano’s Macaroni Grill, the company no longer reports results for that chain.

Doug Brooks, Brinker’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement: “It is obviously a very challenging time for our business, and we are not at all satisfied with our results. While we are confident we are focused on the right fundamentals to deliver what our guests are looking for, we will continue to look for additional opportunities to meet our guests’ current needs and capitalize on future consumer trends.”

For the company’s latest quarter, including special items related to gains on sales of restaurants to franchisees and costs for restaurant closures, Brinker is expected to report earnings between 43 cents and 44 cents per share, compared with 32 cents per share a year earlier, the company reported.