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Cracker Barrel reports 4th Q earnings hike

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. said its earnings jumped 20 percent in the fourth quarter helped by higher revenues and lower food costs.

The company, parent of the Lebanon, Tenn.-based Cracker Barrel family-dining chain, said for the fourth quarter ended July 30 net income rose to $27.4 million, or $1.14 per share, from $22.8 million, or 99 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter increased 2.8 percent, to $612.5 million, from $595.6 million a year earlier, and same-store sales were up 2 percent at the 595-unit chain’s restaurants. Same-store sales at its retail stores grew 2.6 percent.

Operating margins increased from 7 percent a year ago to 7.4 percent for this quarter based on lower food and healthcare benefit costs and improved sales at its retail stores, said chairman and chief executive Michael A. Woodhouse.

Woodhouse said he was cautiously optimistic about the company’s performance going forward into 2011. He anticipates revenues to increase 3 percent for fiscal year 2010.

“We continue to face the uncertainty from low economic growth and a slow job recovery,” he said. “What we do know is that families dining out remain focused on value.”

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected]

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