Sales Climb at Ruth's Chris

Earnings for the fourth quarter top estimates.
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Ruth's Chris Steak House (RUTH) - Get Report saw fourth-quarter revenue rise nearly 12% from a year ago, and the restaurant chain said earnings for 2006 should be in line with or a little better than estimates.

Total revenue reached $58.7 million, up from $52.6 million last year. The company earned $4 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with $1.4 million, or 11 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Before items, Ruth's Chris would have earned $5.1 million and 21 cents a share in the most recent quarter. Analysts were looking for a profit of 19 cents and revenue of $57.5 million.

Same-restaurant sales increased 8.5% at company-owned restaurants in the fourth quarter and 8% at franchised restaurants, Ruth's Chris said.

For the first quarter, the company expects comparable-restaurant sales will rise roughly 6% to 8%. Ruth's Chris projected a profit of 24 cents to 26 cents a share, including the effects of stock-option expensing.

Ruth's Chris forecast comp sales growth of 4.5% to 5.5% for the full year and earnings of 84 cents to 87 cents. Wall Street's targets, according to Thomson First Call, are 25 cents for the first quarter and 84 cents for the year.