Ruby Tuesday Management Discusses Q4 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Ruby Tuesday (RT)

Q4 2012 Earnings Call

July 25, 2012 4:30 pm ET

Executives

Greg Ashley - Vice President of Finance

Samuel E. Beall - Co-Founder, Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Michael O. Moore - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Daniel P. Dillon - Senior Vice President of Brand Development

Kimberly M. Grant - Chief Operations Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Jeffrey D. Farmer - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Keith Siegner - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Robert M. Derrington - Northcoast Research

Joseph T. Buckley - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Peter Saleh - Telsey Advisory Group LLC

John Dravenstott - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Paul Simenauer

Rosemary Sisson

Presentation

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to the Ruby Tuesday Incorporated Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Greg Ashley, Vice President of Finance for Ruby Tuesday. Thank you. Mr. Ashley, you may begin.

Greg Ashley

Thank you, Robin, and thanks to all of you for joining us this afternoon. With me today are Sandy Beall, Ruby Tuesday's Chairman and CEO; Michael Moore, our new Chief Financial Officer; Dan Dillon, Senior Vice President, Brand Development; and Kimberly Grant, Executive Vice President.

I would like to remind you that there will be forward-looking statements in our comments, and I refer you to the note regarding forward-looking information in our press release and most recently filed Form 10-Q. We plan to release our first quarter fiscal year '13 earnings in early October.

Our fourth quarter earnings were released today after the market closed, and a copy of our press release can be found on the Investor Relations section of our website at rubytuesday.com, and is also available on Business Wire, FirstCall and other financial media outlets.

Our format today includes an overview of our fourth quarter and fiscal 2012 financial results, our fiscal 2013 outlook and a review of our plans and strategies. At the conclusion of our prepared remarks, we will respond to your questions.

I will now turn the call over to Sandy.

Samuel E. Beall

Thanks, Greg. I'd like to welcome all of you listening in this evening. Thank you for joining us on our fourth quarter earnings call. I will begin with a brief overview of our quarter and an update of our key value creation initiatives. Michael and Greg will provide the financial review and guidance outlook, then Dan will provide details on our marketing plans, and Kimberly will follow-up with an overview of our operations plans for Ruby Tuesday, as well as Lime Fresh and Marlin & Ray's.

As noted in our press release today, we reported a diluted loss per share of $0.09 for the fourth quarter or earnings per share of $0.21, excluding the various items noted in our press release. Our same-restaurant sales for the fourth quarter minus 4.6% or roughly in line with our expectations as we reduced the level of coupons on a year-over-year basis to get more in line with our quarterly projections going forward in order to eliminate the huge hurdle next year, while also continuing to test our television advertising strategy during the quarter.

Our earnings performance for the quarter on adjusted basis was slightly below our expectations due to unfavorable tax adjustments and higher healthcare costs and interest costs.

Fiscal '12 was a challenging year for us as the environment remained competitive, with a focus on value supported by heavy media levels by most of our competitors. However, we did make some key strategic decisions, which we believe have put our company in a better position going forward. First of all, we made good progress on our upgraded and focused brand position with television test, leveraging our free fresh-baked bread and our Garden Bar free with select entrées, which is a unique differentiator for us among our peers. We completed our marketing program testing in the fourth quarter, with the first quarter fiscal 2013 rollout of our -- what we think is a very good television marketing plan at spending levels more competitive with our peer group, coupled with a more balanced level of promotional spending.

While we still have more work to do on the marketing front, we are happy to report that our advertising continues to gain traction, and we estimate that our first quarter fiscal 2013 same-restaurant sales should be up approximately 2%. Dan will provide more details on this later in the call.

Second, we recently updated our annualized cost savings range to $40 million to $45 million or approximately $5 million higher than the previous quarters estimate. Approximately $8 million of these savings were realized in '12, and the remaining $32 million to $37 million will be realized in this fiscal year.

We plan to reinvest the majority of these total savings into our marketing programs, and we will continue to search for additional savings that do not erode the overall guest experience.

In addition to the cost savings noted above, we also closed 23 underperforming restaurants during the fourth quarter, which is expected to add $1.5 million to $2 million to EBITDA annually and slightly improve same-store sales also.

During the quarter, we acquired the Lime Fresh Mexican Grill concept for $24 million and have plans to grow this brand in the future, including 12 to 16 new company units this fiscal year in 20 plus, hopefully, plus-plus in the following year, fiscal '14. We continue on finding contingent months, slice selection process in getting A sites. This is a very well-positioned, high-quality fast casual brand that offers good growth -- that offers very good growth potential and attractive potential cash-on-cash returns. Our current development strategy is focused on a few P1 markets, Florida, Washington, D.C., New York City area, as well as some other major market points up and down the East Coast.

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