NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- BJ's Restaurants (BJRI - Get Report)  stock is soaring 13.49% to $53.61 in early morning trading Thursday after KeyBanc increased its price target to $60 from $52, while maintaining its "buy" rating.  

BJ's Restaurants 2014 fourth quarter earnings were stronger than expected due to better than expected same-restaurant sales leverage and effective cost optimization programs, KeyBanc noted.

In it's fourth quarter, BJ reported earnings of 31 cents per share, 10 cents higher than both KeyBanc's and the consensus of analysts' estimate.  BJ posted earnings of $1.03 for fiscal year 2014.  

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The California-based casual-dining operator saw net income of $8.2 million in its fourth quarter, up from $500,000 in the year-ago quarter. For 2014, it's net income increased 30.3 %, to $27.4 million, or 97 cents per share.

Analysts raised earnings estimates to $1.27 per share from $1.20 per share for 2015, and estimate earnings of $1.57 per share for fiscal year 2016. 

As BJ continues to open new stores, the smaller prototype/restaurant model is expected to cost roughly $4 million, $1 million less than older stores, analysts said, adding that the new stores could yield a return greater than 25%.

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