CPK ups 2nd-Q outlook on improved sales

LOS ANGELES California Pizza Kitchen Inc. on Wednesday raised its guidance for second quarter earnings as it reported better-than-expected preliminary results for the period.

CPK said it now expects to earn 25 cents to 26 cents per share for the second quarter ended June 29. That compares with a previous earnings projection of 16 cents to 17 cents a share. The operator, franchisor or licensor of 243 restaurants also reported that revenue for the quarter increased 11. 3 percent to $176.6 million, compared with $158.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

Same-store sales for the quarter rose 1.4 percent, CPK said. The company earlier had projected flat comp sales.

CPK officials credited improved operating efficiencies and a sales boost from a Thank You Card program for its second quarter performance. The company said it would release full results on Aug. 7.

Despite the positive results in the second quarter, CPK stopped short of adjusting its full-year outlook because of "limited sales visibility and an ongoing concern for the economy."

Also on Wednesday, CPK said its board of directors had authorized the repurchase of up to $50 million in common stock over the next two years. The move follows three similar stock repurchase programs over the past four years, the most recent of which was completed June 19. Since August 2004, CPK has repurchased more than 6.2 million shares of common stock for a total of about $98.5 million, or an average of $15.78 per share.

CPK released its preliminary second quarter results after the markets closed on Wednesday. In trading that day, CPK's stock fell 5.73 percent to close at $11.18 a share.