Jack in the Box Earnings Tumble

Jack in the Box ( JBX) said second-quarter earnings fell, due in part to weak economic conditions in certain markets. Results, however, topped analysts' estimates by a penny, and the company backed its guidance for 2003.

The restaurant chain earned $16.3 million, or 44 cents a share, in the quarter ended April 13, compared with $18.3 million, or 45 cents a share, in the previous-year quarter. Analysts were expecting 43 cents a share.

The shares were recently up 3% to $20.95.

Jack in the Box cited continued competitive discounting, poor weather and soft sales in markets impacted by the war, which contributed to a 4.3% decrease in same-store sales. Same-store sales fell 0.3% in the same period last year.

Total sales were $463 million compared with $448 million last year. Consolidated company restaurant sales were $418 million for the quarter, flat with last year.

"We anticipated that competitor discounting and weak economic conditions, particularly in our western markets, would continue to impact sales for the near term, but unusually high fuel costs and the war in Iraq adversely affected sales as well," said Chief Executive Robert J. Nugent.

In the third quarter, the company expects to earn 49 cents a share, matching analysts' consensus estimate, on revenue of $479 million. The company earned 60 cents a share in the prior-year third quarter on revenue of $461 million.

Looking to 2003, the company expects to earn $1.97 to $2.01 a share. Analysts expect earnings at the low end of that guidance, at $1.97 per share, on average. The company earned $2.33 a share in 2002.

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