Morton’s price plummets as losses deepen

CHICAGO The price for shares of Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. fell to an annual low Thursday after the steakhouse company reported that slowed sales and a large impairment charge against corporate assets had led to a deeper net loss for the third quarter.

Because of current market conditions and the company’s reduction in market capitalization, it reviewed its carrying value for goodwill and other intangible assets, which typically refer to a company’s brand, intellectual property and trademarks, and booked a $69.8 million pre-tax impairment charge against those assets.

Including that charge, Morton’s posted a third-quarter net loss of $63.7 million, or $4.02 per share, compared with a loss of $736,000, or 4 cents per share a year ago.

Excluding the impairment charge, Morton’s reported an adjusted net loss of $3 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, it reported.

Revenues for the quarter ended Sept. 28 fell 1.3 percent to $77.9 million, and reflected both the temporary closing of a Morton’s steakhouse in Beverly Hills, Calif., and a same-store sales decline of 7.6 percent.

Thomas Baldwin, chairman and chief executive, said that “the uncertain macroeconomic environment in the United States as well as industry headwinds” impacted guest traffic.

It estimated that same-store sales during the current fourth quarter are expected to decline further, between 9 percent and 11 percent.

Morton’s operates 80 Morton’s, The Steakhouse restaurants. Its stock price fell 6.4 percent Thursday to close at $2.91 per share. During trading, it had fallen to $2.72 per share, which marked a new annual low. The stock has traded between $2.90 per share and $13.47 per share during the past 52 weeks.