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CPK raises 1st-Q earnings forecast

LOS ANGELES California Pizza Kitchen Inc. upped its first quarter earnings forecast based on a 10.2-percent increase in revenue, better-than-expected same-store sales and operating efficiencies.

CPK now expects per-share earnings of between 7 cents and 8 cents for the quarter ended March 30, up from previous expectations released in February when the company expected per-share earnings of between 4 cents and 6 cents.

At the time CPK had predicted quarterly same-store sales to be down 1 percent or flat at best. On Tuesday, however, the company said first-quarter same-store sales were up 0.4 percent. The barely positive result still reflects a slowed growth rate from last year’s first quarter same-store sales increase of 4.7 percent.

Revenues for the latest quarter increased to $164.7 million from $149.4 million for the same period last year.

During the quarter, the company added five full-service restaurants, and franchise partner Grupo Calpik SA de CV opened one unit in Mexico City. California Pizza Kitchen operates or franchises 237 locations, and also has a line of frozen pizzas sold in grocery stores through a licensing agreement with Kraft Pizza Co.

Full first-quarter earnings are scheduled for release May 8.

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