Chipotle: Restaurant Winners & Losers

Chipotle, Cheesecake, BJ's and Ruby Tuesday post a mixed bag of profits and revenues.
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) -- A roster of fast-casual restaurants including

Chipotle Mexican Grill

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BJ's Restaurants

(BJRI) - Get Report


Ruby Tuesday



The Cheesecake Factory

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reported quarterly earnings after the closing bell Thursday. All four chains beat bottom-line expectations with a mixed plate of revenues.

Chipotle was the clear winner in the group with strong double-digit growth in sales and profits, and comparable same-store sales -- or sales at stores open at least one year -- up 8.7% year-over-year. The casual Mexican-style restaurant posted earnings of $46.5 million, or $1.46 per share, on revenue of $466.8 million. The Denver, Colo.-based company opened its thousandth restaurant last quarter, and forecast mid- to high-single digit comp sales growth for fiscal 2010.

Huntington Beach, Calif.-based BJs also enjoyed double-digit gains in key metrics like revenues and earnings, and comps grew 5.3% in the quarter. BJ's booked profits of $6.3 million, or 23 cents per share, on sales of $130.5 million.

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Cheesecake Factory's revenues grew just 2.7% year-over-year to $418.9 million, narrowly missing top-line expectations for sales of $419.6 million. Earnings per share of 32 cents, or $19.2 million, also missed expectations, but excluding a one-time $7.4 million pre-tax payment to unwind the remaining interest rate collar on its revolving credit facility balance left it with adjusted EPS of 39 cents, beating analysts' consensus call by a penny. (Analysts typically exclude such extraordinary items when forecasting earnings.) Cheesecake's same-store sales were up 1.6% at its namesake restaurants, while its Grand Lux Café restaurants grew comps 0.9%.

Ruby Tuesday was the sole reporting restaurant in the group to post a decline in year-over-year revenues, booking a 1.2% drop in sales to $313.5 million, missing expectations by just under $1 million. The decrease was primarily driven by the decrease of 16 company-owned restaurants in its fiscal-fourth quarter compared with the year-earlier period. But profits grew by healthy percentages and earnings of $21 million, or 33 cents per share, easily beat The Street's expectations. Comps grew just 0.3% at company-owned restaurants while franchised locations saw same-store sales drop 0.5%.

Ruby Tuesday forecast earnings per share in a range of 76 cents to 86 cents for fiscal 2011, already underway -- something of a disappointment to Wall Street analysts expecting EPS toward the high end of that range, at 85 cents per share. Adding to the less-than-stellar report was caution from Ruby Tuesday that its operating margins would be down for the year as it invests more money into a higher-quality menu and new product offerings.

Shares of Chipotle jumped 2.8% to close at $133.16 ahead of its earnings report Thursday, and rose another 3.7% in after-hours trading. Investors bid BJ's up 6.8%, to $24.70, but the stock lost 3.8% after hours. Cheesecake shares added 4% to close at $25.73 while Ruby Tuesday gained 8.6% to close at $9.93.

-- Reported by Miriam Marcus Reimer from New York.


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