Fast food chain BJ’s Restaurants (BJRI) reported mixed results for the fourth quarter, with earnings falling and missing expectations despite a notable increase in revenues. During the quarter, one-off costs and higher income tax more than offset the benefit of lower expenses. The company’s stock plunged about 10% after the earnings report.
Net profit dropped sharply to $10.7 million or $0.49 per share in the December quarter from $23.5 million or $1.12 per share in the year-ago quarter when the results benefitted from a significant tax benefit. Analysts had forecast a slightly bigger profit growth for the most recent quarter.
Revenues, meanwhile, moved up 7.4% annually to $280.52 million and came in above the Wall Street forecast. Boosting the top-line performance, comparable restaurant sales rose 4.5%, in line with estimates. There was a 3% increase in total restaurant operating weeks and 1.1% growth in guest traffic, which contributed to margin growth.
During the quarter one-off costs and higher income tax more than offset the benefit of lower expenses
At $266.3 million, total costs and expenses were 94.9% of revenues, representing a modest improvement from 95.8% in the year-ago quarter.
“For 2019, we plan to continue focusing our sales building initiatives around new slow roast menu items, Daily Brewhouse Specials and EnLIGHTened Entrées, while continuing to grow our off-premise channels through enhanced take-out and delivery technology and large party/catering,” said CEO Greg Trojan.
During the three-month period, the company opened one new outlet, meeting the target of opening a total of five new restaurants in 2018. Looking ahead, it plans to open seven- nine new restaurants in the current fiscal year.
The management declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.12 per share in the fourth quarter, to be paid on March 26, 2019, to shareholders of record on March 12, 2019. It also repurchased around 247,000 shares for $13.6 million.
Shares of BJ’s Restaurants fell around 10% in the pre-market trading Friday. After reaching a peak mid-2018, the stock retreated and maintained the downtrend since then.