Depreciation and amortization expense decreased by $1.7 million compared with the prior year quarter, primarily as a result of the sale of restaurants over the past two years. Net operating gains, losses and other charges, which include restructuring charges, exit costs, impairment charges and gains or losses on the sale of assets, decreased $1.6 million in the quarter. The decrease was primarily the result of lower gains on the sale of company-owned units to franchisees and higher restructuring costs.
Interest expense decreased $1.7 million to $3.1 million as a result of a $37.4 million reduction in total gross debt over the last 12 months and lower interest rates under the refinanced credit facility.
Adjusted Income Before Taxes*, Denny’s target metric for earnings, increased 9.3% to $13.1 million compared with the prior year quarter Adjusted Income Before Taxes* of $12.0 million.
In the third quarter, the provision for income taxes increased $2.8 million, primarily due to a higher effective tax rate of 37.4% compared to 4.8% effective tax rate in the prior year quarter. The change in the effective tax rate compared to the prior year resulted from the release of a substantial portion of the valuation allowance on certain deferred tax assets based on our improved historical and projected pre-tax income. Due to the use of net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards, the Company only paid $0.5 million in cash taxes in the third quarter.Denny’s net income was $5.4 million for the third quarter 2012, or $0.06 per diluted share, compared with prior year period net income of $8.0 million, or $0.08 per diluted share. Net income was impacted by $2.5 million in impairment expense and $1.3 million for unfavorable workers’ compensation claims development. In the first three quarters of 2012, Denny’s has generated $41.5 million of Free Cash Flow* which the Company has used to reduce its outstanding term loan by $22.0 million and repurchase 2.4 million shares. As of October 26, 2012, the Company has repurchased approximately 10 million shares since initiating a share repurchase strategy and now has 5 million shares remaining in its current authorized share repurchase initiative.