Slow traffic, declining sales push major industry players to lower expectations

Slow traffic, declining sales push major industry players to lower expectations

It just isn’t getting any better out there. Late last month such industry bellwethers as Darden Restaurants, McCormick & Schmick’s [3] Seafood Restaurants, Ruby Tuesday [4] and Ruth’s Chris [5] Steak House blamed slower guest traffic and declining sales for forcing them to reduce their financial forecasts for the just-ending 2007 and portions of the current new year.

All of the companies cited the weak macroeconomic and consumer environments as well as continued cost pressures from increased food and labor expenses.

At Ruth’s Chris Steak House [5] Inc., which operates or franchises more than 100 upscale restaurants, company chairman, president and chief executive Craig Miller said he foresees no “meaningful,” industrywide turnaround from current trends until “at least the second half of fiscal 2008.”

Foodservice stock analyst Andrew Barish at Banc of America Securities LLC said in a late December report that additional cuts to expected corporate earnings are likely.

TARGET:Wendy’s International Inc.ACQUIRER:Triarc Cos. Inc.ACTION: unspecified buyout offer, known to be less than $3.2 billion STATUS: pending
TARGET:Mitchell’s Fish Market (19 units), Cameron’s Steakhouse (3 units)ACQUIRER: Ruth’s Chris Steak House Inc.SELLER:Cameron Mitchell Restaurants LLC,ACTION: $94 million acquisition agreement STATUS: expected to close in Q1 ’08
TARGET:Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill (73-unit chain)ACQUIRER: Sun Capital Partners Inc.SELLER:Darden Restaurants Inc.ACTION: $80 million acquisition agreement STATUS: expected to close this month
TARGET: Skyline Chili (Cincinnati-based, 134-unit chain)ACQUIRER: Management and Prudential Capital PartnersSELLER: Nautic Partners LLCACTION: bought out former owner for undisclosed value STATUS: closed late last month

“We may be overly conservative,” he said, “but we believe restaurant [earnings-per-share] estimates need to come down nearly across the board…given the very soft—and worsening—demand environment and high inflation [from] food and labor costs.”

Heathrow, Fla.-based Ruth’s Chris said Dec. 21 that per-share earnings for 2007 are now expected to total between 79 cents and 81 cents, down from the company’s prior expectations of per-share profit between 92 cents and 95 cents. In fiscal 2006, Ruth’s Chris earned $1.02 per share.

Ruth’s Chris also said that 2007’s final same-store sales tally would be flat from a year ago—after the company had previously projected a same-store sales increase of between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent. Its same-store sales for 2008 are expected to range from flat to down 2 percent while growth in per-share earnings is projected to fall below the company’s long-term growth target of 17.5 percent. More specific 2008 guidance is expected when Ruth’s Chris posts fiscal 2007 results in February.

SAME-STORE SALES TRENDSQUICK SERVICECASUAL DININGFAST CASUALPIZZACOFFEE and SNACKFAMILY DINING and BUFFETSource: Company reports

 
SYSTEMWIDE UNLESS NOTED PERIOD, END DATE %CHG. YEAR AGO %CHG.
Arby’s Q3, 9/30 0.0 5.0
Burger King, worldwide Q1, 9/30 5.9 2.4
Burger King, U.S. & Canada Q1, 9/30 6.6 2.6
CKE: Carl’s Jr. (corporate) 4 wks., 12/3 2.5 0.5
  Hardee’s (corporate) 4 wks., 12/3 3.2 5.2
Jack in the Box (corporate) Q4, 9/30 5.2 5.9
McDonald’s, Global 4 wks.,11/30 8.2 6.2
McDonald’s, U.S. 4 wks., 11/30 4.4 5.1
McDonald’s, Europe 4 wks., 11/30 10.8 8.4
McDonald’s, Asia-Pacific/Middle East/Africa 4 wks., 11/30 12.0 4.3
Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, Global Q3, 10/7 -1.7 0.0
Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, U.S. Q3, 10/7 -1.9 0.2
Sonic Q4, 8/31 3.1 4.0
Wendy’s, U.S. (corporate) Q3, 9/30 0.2 4.1
Wendy’s, U.S. (franchised) Q3, 9/30 1.3 3.9
Yum! Brands, blended chains, Global Q3, 9/8 4.0 N/A
Yum! Brands, blended chains, U.S. Q3, 9/8 1.0 N/A
Yum! Brands, blended chain, China Q3, 9/8 11.0 N/A
Yum! Brands, blended chains, Other International Q3, 9/8 7.0 N/A
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, U.S. (corporate) 4 wks., 11/25 -2.3 -3.1
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, U.S. (franchised) 4 wks., 11/25 -1.3 -3.0
Benihana: Benihana teppanyaki Q2, 10/14 2.4 9.3
  Haru Q2, 10/14 4.8 10.3
  RA Sushi Q2, 10/14 3.0 12.8
BJ’s Restaurants, blended chains (corporate) Q3, 10/2 5.6 5.3
Brinker: Chili’s Grill & Bar (corporate) Q1, 9/26 0.7 -2.3
  Maggiano’s Little Italy (corporate) Q1, 9/26 0.5 -1.5
  On the Border Mexican (corporate) Q1, 9/26 -5.3 -2.2
Buca di Beppo Q3, 9/30 1.8 2.7
California Pizza Kitchen (corporate) Q3, 9/30 3.5 5.6
The Cheesecake Factory: Cheesecake Q3, 10/2 1.0 -2.1
    Grand Lux Café Q3, 10/2 4.8 6.7
Darden: Bahama Breeze Q2, 11/25 0.1 0.1
  The Capital Grille Q2, 11/25 1.2 N/A
  LongHorn Steakhouse Q2, 11/25 -2.5 N/A
  Olive Garden Q2, 11/25 3.2 2.9
  Red Lobster Q2, 11/25 0.1 0.7
Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que (corporate) Q3, 9/30 2.1 3.1
Granite City Food and Brewery Q3, 9/25 2.7 3.4
J. Alexander’s Q3, 9/30 1.3 4.6
Kona Grill Q3, 9/30 4.9 4.0
Landry’s, various brands Q3, 9/30 1.0 1.0
Max & Erma’s Restaurants Q3, 8/5 -3.6 -5.4
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants Q3, 9/29 -0.1 2.9
Mexican Restaurants (corporate) Q3, 9/30 1.8 -0.9
Mexican Restaurants (franchised) Q3, 9/30 5.4 -0.4
Mimi’s Café 4 wks., 11/23 -1.9 N/A
Morton’s Q3, 9/30 7.3 2.0
O’Charley’s: O’Charley’s (corporate) Q3, 10/2 -1.7 -1.1
  Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub (corporate) Q3, 10/2 1.5 1.5
  Stoney River Legendary Steaks (corporate) Q3, 10/2 -0.8 3.9
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Q3, 9/30 -1.6 -0.5
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (corporate) Q3, 10/7 4.8 0.8
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (franchised, U.S.) Q3, 10/7 2.4 2.0
Ruby Tuesday (corporate) Q2, 12/4 -10.8 -0.2
Ruby Tuesday (franchised) Q2, 12/4 -8.7 4.0
Ruth’s Chris Steak House (corporate) Q3, 9/30 -0.4 4.3
Ruth’s Chris Steak House (franchised) Q3, 9/30 -0.5 5.7
Steak n Shake (corporate) Q4, 9/26 -3.9 -3.4
Texas Roadhouse (corporate) Q3, 9/25 2.5 2.3
Texas Roadhouse (franchised) Q3, 9/25 2.0 1.8
Buffalo Wild Wings (corporate) Q3, 9/30 8.3 11.8
Buffalo Wild Wings (franchised) Q3, 9/30 5.9 6.4
Chipotle Mexican Grill Q3, 9/30 12.4 11.6
Cosi (corporate) Q3, 10/1 1.7 -4.2
Panera 5 wks., 11/27 3.2 1.4
Pei Wei Asian Diner Q3, 9/30 -1.0 -1.5
Qdoba Mexican Grill Q4, 9/30 5.8 4.5
Rubio’s Q3, 9/30 7.1 1.8
Tim Hortons, Canada Q3, 9/30 7.5 5.9
Tim Hortons, U.S. Q3, 9/30 4.5 9.2
Chuck E. Cheese’s (corporate) Q3, 9/30 -2.5 5.0
Domino’s Pizza, U.S. Q3, 9/30 -1.6 -3.1
Domino’s Pizza, International Q3, 9/30 8.3 3.0
Papa John’s, U.S. Q3, 9/30 0.2 4.5
Pizza Inn, U.S. Q1, 9/23 1.4 -6.0
Caribou Coffee (corporate) Q3, 9/30 1.0 -1.0
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Q3, 10/28 -6.0 N/A
Starbucks Coffee, U.S. Q4, 9/30 4.0 5.0
Starbucks Coffee, Global Q4, 9/30 4.0 5.0
Bob Evans Restaurants 4 wks., 11/23 2.1 N/A
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 4 wks., 11/30 2.5 0.5
Denny’s (corporate) Q3, 9/26 1.3 4.2
Denny’s (franchised) Q3, 9/26 3.2 4.7
Frisch’s Big Boy (corporate) Q1, 9/18 1.2 0.9
Golden Corral (Frisch’s-franchised only) Q1, 9/18 -2.8 -2.9
IHOP Q3, 9/30 2.0 1.3
Luby’s Q1, 11/21 -3.4 1.7

Ruby Tuesday Inc. [4], based in Maryville, Tenn., said it expects to report a net loss for its second quarter ended Dec. 4 of between 18 and 21 cents per share, compared with a per-share profit of 28 cents in the comparable period a year earlier. In the latest quarter, same-store sales fell 10.8 percent at corporate Ruby Tuesday restaurants and 8.7 percent at domestic franchised units. The operator or franchisor of 935 namesake restaurants is expected to report full second-quarter results Jan. 9.

NRN STOCK INDEX AND OTHER SELECTED INDICESVariability for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 28

 
  CLOSE 12/28/07 WEEKLY % CHG.
NRN STOCK INDEX 1,247.51 -0.68
NYSE COMPOSITE 9,803.89 0.16
DOW JONES INDEX 13,365.87 -0.63
S&P 500 1,478.49 -0.40

Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc. last month reported a 29.5-percent year-over-year drop in net profit for its second quarter ended Nov. 25, with results weighed down by a “difficult consumer environment,” a “tougher than anticipated cost environment” and Darden’s October acquisition of Rare Hospitality International [6] Inc.

Because of the shortfall, Darden cut its forecast per-share earnings forecast for fiscal 2008, which will end this May. The parent of Red Lobster [7] and Olive Garden [8] now expects annual earnings per share to grow between 2 percent and 4 percent from the prior year, including charges related to the Rare acquisition. In September, Darden, which operates more than 1,700 restaurants, said it expected year-over-year earnings growth of as much as 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Portland, Ore.-based McCormick & Schmick’s cut its fourth-quarter and full-year revenue expectations by about $2 million and said same-store sales are expected to be negative rather than slightly positive, as previously expected. The operator of 82 upscale-casual seafood restaurants said it was withholding specific profit projections as the sales shortfall would keep it from meeting its previously forecast per-share earnings for both the quarter and the year.

WEEK’S TOP GAINERS

KONA GRILL INC 7.94%
GRILL CONCEPTS INC 6.70
GRANITE CITY FOOD & BREWERY 5.08
LUBY’S INC 4.73
COSI INC 4.19
FLANIGAN’S ENTERPRISES INC. 4.11
ARK RESTAURANTS CORP. 4.00
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC 3.60
PANERA BREAD CO 3.37
EINSTEIN NOAH REST. GRP. INC. 2.54

WEEK’S TOP LOSERSPercentage changes in stock prices, week ended 12/28/07

AFC ENTERPRISES INC. -10.01%
DENNY’S CORP -6.14
CARROLS RESTAURANT GROUP INC -6.05
KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS INC -5.11
BJ’S RESTAURANTS INC. -5.00
CKE RESTAURANTS INC. -4.93
RUBY TUESDAY INC -4.60
JAMBA INC -4.55
LANDRY’S RESTAURANTS INC. -4.54
STARBUCKS CORP -4.42

NRN’S FINANCIAL SCORECARD (PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES*; $ IN MILLIONS) TRAILING FOUR QTRS.WEEK ENDED 12/28/07*EXCLUDES OTC STOCKSSOURCE: MERGENT INC. AND FINANCIAL CONTENT INC.

 
             
COMPANY TICKER SYMBOL QTR. END DATE REVS. %CHG. NET %CHG. REVS. %CHG. NET %CHG. MKT. CAP P/E RATIO
AFC Enterprises Inc. AFCE 7/15 $38.3 11.3 $6.6 29.4 $168.2 17.2 $5.6 473.3 $291.8 12
Ark Restaurants Corp. ARKR 6/30 36.1 10.6 3.5 39.5 121.1 3.5 12.4 134.5 132.5 18
Benihana Inc. BNHN 10/14 67.0 13.6 2.5 -4.3 286.3 11.7 13.8 -3.9 77.9 14
BJ’s Restaurants Inc. BJRI 10/2 80.4 30.1 3.1 31.2 297.5 33.6 10.9 16.0 430.3 40
Bob Evans Farms Inc. BOBE 10/26 426.3 3.3 15.5 14.7 1,693.8 4.7 62.9 2.8 889.4 15
Brinker International Inc. EAT 9/26 895.1 -13.9 37.6 -21.1 4,243.5 0.4 220.5 -3.5 2,042.2 11
Buca Inc. BUCA 9/30 56.5 0.2 (4.8) -5.3 248.6 13.7 (10.0) -13.8 20.0 -
Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. BWLD 9/30 82.4 20.5 4.3 21.0 316.5 24.4 20.0 65.4 407.2 20
Burger King Holdings Inc. BKC 9/30 602.0 10.3 49.0 22.5 2,290.0 9.8 157.0 248.9 3,878.0 25
California Pizza Kitchen Inc. CPKI 9/30 162.0 13.5 1.4 -78.9 617.5 15.3 15.1 -27.3 448.3 30
Caribou Coffee Inc. CBOU 9/30 62.0 8.8 (8.5) 172.8 254.0 12.4 (17.6) 129.8 75.0 -
Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. TAST 9/30 203.5 7.3 4.9 -5.2 780.9 -0.9 15.2 43.3 207.5 13
CBRL Group Inc. CBRL 11/2 581.2 4.1 13.9 -28.5 2,334.1 -9.3 149.8 35.8 772.3 12
CEC Entertainment Inc. CEC 9/30 197.5 1.4 15.9 -7.4 788.7 3.2 68.7 3.1 772.8 13
The Cheesecake Factory Inc. CAKE 10/2 375.5 15.4 18.5 2.2 1,469.6 16.4 81.3 -1.8 1,684.2 22
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CMG 9/30 286.4 35.6 20.6 74.6 1,016.6 30.9 63.9 83.3 2,199.5 79
CKE Restaurants Inc. CKR 11/5 351.6 -3.6 6.2 -34.4 1,559.8 -1.4 41.4 -78.7 738.2 20
Così Inc. COSI 10/1 35.3 7.0 (3.0) 5.1 135.3 9.1 (19.4) 42.9 91.8 -
Darden Restaurants Inc. DRI 11/25 1,522.0 9.9 43.5 -29.5 5,715.4 6.6 376.3 4.1 3,919.1 11
Denny’s Corp. DENN 9/26 241.4 -6.5 5.3 -79.1 966.3 -3.0 20.5 -12.7 360.0 19
Diedrich Coffee Inc. DDRX 9/19 8.2 27.0 (0.3) -83.6 38.4 -28.6 (0.4) -94.8 18.7 -
Dominos Pizza Inc. DPZ 9/9 337.3 3.3 11.0 -55.2 1,456.1 -0.5 53.0 -53.7 815.5 16
Einstein Noah Restaurant Group Inc. BAGL 10/2 100.4 4.8 4.9 557.3 396.9 0.6 11.8 186.7 276.5 27
Famous Dave’s of America Inc. DAVE 9/30 31.9 3.5 1.6 3.0 122.8 8.2 6.1 33.1 126.4 21
Flanigan’s Enterprises Inc. BDL 6/30 15.4 11.2 0.4 110.3 60.3 11.4 1.2 -0.5 15.3 13
Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. FRS 9/18 89.5 1.4 2.5 7.8 292.0 0.0 9.5 7.4 122.7 13
Good Times Restaurants Inc. GTIM 6/30 6.9 20.5 0.1 -72.9 23.9 22.5 (0.1) -40.3 20.2 -
Granite City Food & Brewery Ltd. GCFB 9/25 19.6 30.3 (2.3) 41.9 73.4 42.4 (6.9) 26.0 45.0 -
Grill Concepts Inc. GRIL 9/30 21.3 11.0 (0.6) 32.4 87.8 14.7 0.7 -61.7 37.8 29
IHOP Corp. IHP 9/30 91.4 3.9 (11.6) -202.7 358.9 2.7 24.1 -45.5 615.2 27
J. Alexander’s Corp JAX 9/30 33.4 1.4 0.4 -10.6 141.2 4.4 5.5 44.4 66.1 12
Jack in the Box Inc. JBX 9/30 678.4 1.1 27.0 -18.6 2,884.0 4.0 126.7 17.0 1,572.0 14
Jamba Inc. JMBA 10/16 83.6 439.9 22.4 46.7 324.1 -932.4 16.6 -142.3 198.8 47
Kona Grill Inc. KONA 9/30 19.2 39.1 0.4 -194.9 69.0 49.0 (0.9) -45.8 82.6 -
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. KKD 10/28 103.4 -11.7 (0.8) -88.9 431.8 -8.6 (59.7) 6.9 207.1 -
Landry’s Restaurants Inc. LNY 9/30 301.9 4.0 (4.3) -85.5 1,172.7 -14.2 16.4 -272.4 322.4 15
Luby’s Inc. LUB 11/21 73.4 -0.4 4.8 147.4 320.1 -1.5 13.8 -28.5 295.4 25
Max & Erma’s Restaurants Inc. MAXE 8/5 39.2 -3.6 (1.0) 228.0 175.6 -3.6 (0.7) 188.1 5.3 -
McCormick & Schmicks Restaurant Inc. MSSR 9/29 88.1 16.5 2.0 -24.5 344.3 14.4 14.6 14.9 176.8 12
McDonald’s Corp. MCD 9/30 5,900.9 0.3 1,071.2 27.0 22,406.2 2.8 2,363.4 -18.8 70,374.2 45
Mexican Restaurants Inc. CASA 9/30 20.9 -0.7 0.1 -76.4 80.3 -5.5 (0.9) -126.3 17.2 -
Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. MRT 9/30 78.9 12.6 (0.7) 651.0 345.0 9.4 12.2 -161.0 159.2 12
Nathan’s Famous Inc. NATH 9/23 14.1 7.1 1.8 -3.8 47.4 8.1 7.2 55.1 104.4 20
NexCen Brands Inc. NEXC 9/30 11.3 526.3 0.1 -114.2 22.6 123.9 0.0 -100.5 252.1 24
O’Charley’s Inc. CHUX 10/7 220.9 0.9 (0.4) -116.6 1,003.0 4.2 11.7 -23.4 331.6 32
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. PFCB 9/30 270.9 17.3 5.3 -19.9 1,057.2 17.2 33.9 0.3 588.9 18
Panera Bread Co. PNRA 9/25 273.2 33.3 11.9 9.8 1,001.0 29.7 58.6 4.1 1,118.8 20
Papa John’s International Inc. PZZA 9/30 262.8 9.6 4.8 -63.2 1,040.6 7.9 42.8 -27.3 649.9 16
Peet’s Coffee and Tea Inc. PEET 9/30 60.9 19.6 1.8 24.1 239.3 18.8 7.2 -19.8 407.6 56
Pizza Inn Inc. PZZI 9/23 12.1 0.7 0.3 -132.5 48.1 -3.9 1.6 -124.4 29.6 18
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. RRGB 10/7 188.7 27.0 8.2 36.4 743.4 30.1 29.4 12.7 546.2 19
Rubio’s Restaurants Inc. RUBO 9/30 44.0 13.5 0.7 22.0 166.8 14.4 (3.0) 144.8 83.2 -
Ruby Tuesday Inc. RT 9/4 346.8 2.4 11.1 -48.5 1,422.1 8.0 81.4 -18.3 493.7 7
Ruth’s Chris Steak House Inc. RUTH 9/30 70.2 20.5 1.8 -23.6 312.7 28.4 24.0 37.6 203.3 8
Sonic Corp. SONC 8/31 224.3 13.3 22.0 -13.7 770.5 11.1 64.2 -18.4 1,359.6 25
Star Buffet Inc. STRZ 11/5 15.1 23.8 (1.0) 296.5 67.6 18.9 (0.6) -153.5 18.2 -
Starbucks Corp. SBUX 9/30 2,440.9 21.8 158.5 35.1 9,433.5 20.9 673.9 19.1 14,703.0 23
Steak n Shake Co. SNS 9/26 151.1 -0.6 1.5 -79.6 656.0 2.4 11.9 -57.7 312.6 26
Texas Roadhouse Inc. TXRH 9/25 189.5 27.6 10.6 15.3 703.0 24.8 40.1 23.0 765.6 21
Tim Hortons Inc. THI 9/30 419.1 1.3 57.6 11.0 1,581.8 -1.2 224.1 7.3 7,049.3 30
Triarc Companies Inc. TRY 9/30 324.2 4.0 3.7 580.8 1,277.9 4.7 (19.3) -25.7 253.0 -
Wendy’s International Inc. WEN 9/30 631.1 1.2 29.9 -56.8 2,477.1 -30.7 77.6 -36.4 2,273.1 27
Yum! Brands Inc. YUM 9/8 2,564.0 12.6 270.0 17.4 10,197.1 9.7 912.7 16.7 19,601.8 23