In the previous quarter, total revenue increased 12.4% year over year to $341.5 million, and earnings per share grew 23.6% to $1.10, due to lower cost of sales. The driver was a new pricing structure, selling wings by portion size instead of by wing number, that was rolled out late in the previous quarter. The benefits of this pricing structure, as well as the restaurants' new "Guest Experience" model, should help earnings growth continue in the current quarter. The average estimate for the current quarter is $1.34 per share on revenue of $362.96 million.
If dozens of big-screen TV's showing every sport, lots of beer and great-tasting wings weren't enough to keep you entertained before, Buffalo Wild Wings is also embarking on an ambitious plan offering table-side tablets at all of its stores in the coming year. These tablets allow customers to play poker or trivia games with other customers in the restaurant or at other Buffalo Wild Wing locations around the country. So far, this technology is in use at 300 restaurants, after Buffalo Wild Wings signed a deal with interactive entertainment company NTN Buzztime (NTN) - Get Report late last year. The technology was expanded upon in March.
To aid in its tech push last quarter, Buffalo Wild Wings initiated a service model dubbed "Guest Experience" in corporate-owned stores. Dedicated "guest experience captains" were added to hourly server teams to help with the new gadgetry and assist customers with sports-viewing requests, all in an effort to empower customers. The company expects this service model to be in place in all company-owned stores by year-end and in all franchisees by the end of 2015.
We should hear more about this major corporate initiative during a conference call on Monday. The company should give us an update on its plans to begin offering table-side ordering using the new technology, as well as on an expected trial run of letting customers pay for their meals using the tablets. Both of these engaging ideas should help drive down customer wait times, increase the patrons' satisfaction and boost revenue.
Buffalo Wild Wings' stock has been under pressure with the rest of the market over the last month. Strong support lies in the $130 to $135 area, where the 200-day moving average is. A break of the downtrend at $145 should see Buffalo Wild Wings move back to its previous high at $159. If the stock is unable to hold above $130, there is 10% to 15% downside risk.
The rest of the casual dining sector will be looking closely at how quickly Buffalo Wild Wings' customers adapt to the new technology, and at the positive impact it has on earnings.