Compensation expenses pare P.F. Chang's 4-Q profit

SCOTTSDALE Ariz. P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. recorded a 5.5-percent dip in fourth-quarter profit from a year earlier, as equity-based compensation expense and increased costs negatively affected the company's bottom line.

Still, P.F. Chang's per-share, fourth-quarter profit beat average Wall Street estimates and the company's fiscal 2007 outlook was better than expected, sending the company's stock price to a nine-month high during trading on Wednesday.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, P.F. Chang's earned $8.8 million, down from profit of $9.3 million in the year-earlier fourth quarter. Per-share earnings totaled 34 cents for both quarters, as the number of shares outstanding was 4.3-percent lower in the latest quarter.

The company, which operates or franchises 260 restaurants under its namesake chain and its Pei Wei Asian Diner concept, booked accounting charges of $1.9 million in its latest quarter for stock-based compensation and pre-opening expenses.

As previously reported, corporate revenue totaled $252 million, up 17.9 percent from a year earlier. Same-store sales declined 0.9 percent at the company's namesake concept and 0.7 percent at Pei Wei.

For the full year, P.F. Chang's earned $33.3 million, or $1.24 per share, down from year-earlier profit of $37.8 million, or $1.40 per share. Revenues for fiscal 2006 rose 15.9 percent from a year earlier to $937.6 million. Same-store sales fell 0.3 percent at the company's bistro chain and dropped 2 percent at Pei Wei. The company said it expects to record a 19-percent jump in fiscal 2007 revenues, to $1.1 billion, and a 17-percent increase in per-share earnings to $1.45 per share.