At the heart of these positive shareholder returns were strong operating results built on the successful execution of the sound business strategy we announced last year. We had an excellent fourth quarter and full-year fiscal 2012. This is particularly impressive as many of our competitors have continued to struggle in this challenging economic environment.Highlights from our most recent quarter and fiscal year include:
- During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, comparable store traffic and restaurant sales increased 1.4% and 3.8%, respectively, marking the third consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year sales and traffic and the third consecutive quarter of beating the Knapp-Track TM casual dining index. Our new $5.99 lunch specials, which offer consumers a different price point, generate attractive profitability for us, and we believe have contributed to our traffic gains.
- We increased our focus on retail sales, resulting in three consecutive quarters of growth. Most recently, comparable store retail sales increased 3.1% in the fourth quarter.
- We also improved our operating profit and margins, despite continued pressure from commodity prices. These improvements resulted in a significant increase in earnings per share (both GAAP and as adjusted) 1 for the fourth quarter and for fiscal 2012 over the previous year.
- We improved our reach and impact with the new marketing campaign, “Hand Crafted by Cracker Barrel.” This message resonated with consumers looking for both value and good food that is made from scratch in real kitchens by real cooks.
- Finally, for the second year in a row, we were voted No. 1 in the Family Dining segment in the 2012 Consumer Picks survey conducted by Nation’s Restaurant News. Cracker Barrel had the highest ranking in several categories, including service, menu variety, and likely to return.