The company expects to earn between 70 cents and 75 cents per share in the fiscal year, short of analysts' expectations of 80 cents, according to FactSet.
The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of 16 cents per share, topping analyst estimates by 2 cents, while revenue of $106.3 million was also ahead of consensus $104.4 million expectations.
"We ended 2018 with strong operating momentum, with fourth-quarter results that included a 4.4% system-wide increase in comparable restaurant sales, which was our best performance since the first quarter of 2015," CEO Bernard Acoca said.
The company is predicting comps growth between 2% and 4% in the year with expectations for the opening of between three and four new company-owned restaurants and another three to five franchised restaurants.
"We believe these results are evidence that the initiatives we launched during 2018 as part of our Transformation Agenda are gaining traction and driving results," Acoca said.
El Pollo Loco's stock at one point this year had risen as much as 30%, but a recent downturn has wiped out all of the stock's gains in 2019. Shares have declined more than 11% year to date.
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