Denny’s 4th-Q comps fall at company stores

SPARTANTBURG S.C. Denny’s Corp. reported on Thursday that company same-store sales fell 1.2 percent for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 26. Franchised same-store sales rose 0.3 percent over the year-ago fourth quarter.

Excluding the impact of severe weather, Denny’s said the comparable-store sales were in line with its expectations for the fourth quarter.

Nelson Marchioli, president and chief executive officer, said Denny’s still expects to meet its full-year earnings guidance “despite a difficult sales environment.”

For the full year, same-store sales rose 0.3 percent at corporate units and 1.7 percent at franchised units, Denny’s reported.

Denny’s, operator or franchisor of 1,546 namesake restaurants, continues a corporate restructuring that has included the refranchising of corporate stores, divestures of real estate and staff layoffs.

Denny’s said Thursday that it sold 74 units to franchisees in the fourth quarter, which brings the year-to-date total to 130 units. The company also said that it reduced debt by $55 million for the fourth quarter. For the full year, debt reductions totaled $100 million.

“We are confident in our strategic direction and will continue to execute upon it in order to grow our brand and optimize our business model," Marchioli said.

Denny’s said it expects to release full results for the fourth quarter and the year on Feb. 13.