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Outback Steakhouse


sank 11% early Wednesday after the restaurant chain missed fourth-quarter estimates and guided sharply lower for 2006.

The Tampa, Fla., steakhouse chain made $28 million, or 37 cents a share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from the year-ago $38 million, or 49 cents a share. Excluding a $5.6 million restaurant-closing charge, latest-quarter earnings were 46 cents a share, 9 cents shy of the Thomson Financial analyst consensus estimate.

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Revenue rose 12% from a year ago to $918 million, missing the $930 million analyst consensus estimate.

"During the fourth quarter, Outback showed marginal top-line improvement from the prior quarter and we were pleased with continued growth in sales and profit from our other concepts," CEO Bill Allen said. "We also took additional steps to optimize our portfolio, including the agreement in principle to sell our interest in Paul Lee's Chinese Kitchen."

Outback said it expects to make $1.70 a share or so for 2006, and about $1.94 excluding items. Analysts were looking for $2.55.

The company also doubled its buyback plan to 3 million shares.

The stock dropped $4.56 to $40.10.