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P.F. Chang's Serves Up Strong Earnings

P.F. Chang's China Bistro (PFCB) shares were set ablaze after the restaurant operator bumped up its profit outlook by more than one-third.

Excluding an 8-cent impairment charge from its standalone Taneko Japanese Tavern, the company now expects to make between 32 cents and 34 cents a share. That's sharply higher than the company's prior guidance and the Wall Street consensus, each of which projected 23 cents a share.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., company attributes most of this to higher-than-expected revenue which, as announced last week, jumped 16.1% from a year earlier to $292.6 million. In October, sales were pegged at just $285.6 million.

Also cited was a "better-than-expected claims development" that resulted in "favorable" adjustments in group medical and workers' comp adjustments.

P.F. Chang's shares closed up $2.55, or 11.7%, to $24.36.

That came as another casual-dining chain, IHOP (IHP), took a 2.7% slide after saying that its new Applebee's acquisition has yielded slouching same-store sales, or sales from locations that have been open for a year or more.

Even as IHOP's total comps climbed 3.7% year over year in the fourth quarter and 2.2% in all of 2007, for Applebee's that figure slipped by 2.9% and 2.1% in those respective periods.

IHOP restaurant traffic, furthermore, has been on the decline, so the positive same-store sales numbers were due to a higher average dollar amount for customer checks.

IHOP shares finished down $1.24 to $44.96.

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