Bob Evans Profit Jumps

Sales remain sluggish at the company's namesake chain.
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Bob Evans Farms'


fiscal first-quarter earnings jumped 82% as profitability improved in its restaurant operations, but the company still was hurt by sluggish sales at its namesake chain.

The operator of casual-dining chains earned $13.1 million, or 36 cents a share, for the quarter ended July 28, up from $7.2 million, or 20 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter's results included a gain of 5 cents a share from the sale of assets, as well as charges of 5 cents a share related to stock option costs.

The company said the earnings increase primarily reflects improved profitability in the restaurant segment from depressed levels in last year's first quarter.

Revenue increased to $403.4 million from $395.6 million a year earlier, though same-store sales declined 3.9% at its Bob Evans restaurants. Same-store sales at the smaller Mimi's Café chain rose 0.4%.

"Same-store sales remained a challenge at Bob Evans Restaurants, with particularly sharp declines in our dinner traffic," said Chief Executive Steve Davis in a statement. Davis, noting margin improvement, said the company's primary near-term focus is to improve profitability at the chain.