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CPK maintains 3rd-Q profit target despite challenging comps

LOS ANGELES California Pizza Kitchen Inc. maintained on Tuesday its profit expectations for the third quarter because of cost controls and a 7.4-percent revenue increase that would help alleviate a larger-than-expected drop in same-store sales.

For the quarter ended Sept. 28, same-store sales were down 2.4 percent. Earlier this year, CPK had projected that same-store sales would drop 2 percent for the third quarter. Officials said that despite the shortfall, the company’s top-line growth and “operating efficiencies,” which it did not outline, would help quarterly per-share earnings hit the target of between 18 cents and 21 cents. The company earned 25 cents per share a year ago.

Latest third quarter revenues totaled $174 million, compared with $162 million last year. During the quarter, the company opened four full-service restaurants in Novi, Mich.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Roseville, Calif. International franchise partners opened units in Seoul, South Korea; Mexico City; and Tumon Bay, Guam.

Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax, the company’s co-chief executives, said the third quarter was marked by a number of sales challenges, including a fiscal shift in the July 4th holiday, the Olympics and political conventions that kept customers at home, hurricanes, gas shortages in the Southeast, and record-level stock market volatility.

The company, which operates, franchises or licenses 249 restaurants, said full third-quarter earnings will be released Nov. 6.

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