CKE: Weather dampens blended 4th-Q comps

CARPINTERIA Calif. Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent CKE Restaurants Inc. said blended same-store sales increased 0.9 percent for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 28, with severe weather in January hurting results. In the year-ago fourth quarter, blended same-store sales rose 3.8 percent.

Heavy rain in California and colder-than-normal temperatures throughout the Midwest and Southeast dampened sales, as did a shift in the timing of the New Year’s holiday, said Andrew Puzder, CKE’s president and chief executive. However, he was not ready to blame the macroeconomic climate that is challenging most operators.

“While certain competitors’ results may be reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending, the impact of weather and the New Year holiday shift make it difficult for us to quantify any such impact on our brands’ performance,” he said. “We remain very positive about our focus on premium-priced, innovative products and their ability to fuel sales and profit growth É despite an increased level of competitive discounting within the industry,” he said.

For the full fiscal 2008, CKE reported that blended same-store sales increased 1.5 percent, a dropoff from the prior year’s increase of 4.8 percent.

In fiscal 2008, Hardee’s same-store sales grew 2.0 percent, compared with a 4.8 percent increase during the prior year. Fourth quarter revenues for the brand totaled about $120.6 million for company-operated units. Officials credited promotions of the Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger, as well as two-for-$3 Bacon Cheddar Double Cheeseburgers and Bacon Cheddar Fries.

For Carl’s Jr., full-year same-store sales were up 0.9 percent, compared with an increase of 4.9 percent the previous year. Fourth quarter revenues for company-operated Carl’s Jr. stores were about $139.3 million, helped by sales of the Portobello Mushroom Six Dollar Burger and the Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burrito.

CKE plans to add 121 new Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants in fiscal 2009, including 23 company-owned units, 48 domestic franchised units and 50 international franchise stores.

Net of closures, the company added 74 restaurants in fiscal 2008, CKE said.

Carpinteria-based CKE operates or franchises 1,121 Carl's Jr. and 1.915 Hardee's quick-service restaurants.