Brinker earnings rise 4% behind strength at Chili's, Maggiano's

by Eric Schroeder
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DALLAS — Earnings at Brinker International increased 4% during the second quarter of fiscal 2013, driven by gains in sales at both its Chili’s and Maggiano’s restaurants.

For the quarter ended Dec. 26, 2012, the company posted income of $37,177,000, equal to 51c per share on the common stock, up from $35,674,000, or 45c per share, during the same quarter of the previous year. Revenue for the quarter was $689,764,000, up 1% from $681,904,000.

“Brinker continued to take market share again this quarter, as we delivered our eighth consecutive quarter of positive sales growth, despite fewer holiday days in the quarter versus last year,” said Wyman Roberts, president and chief executive officer. “This demonstrates that our strategies designed to strengthen our margins, reinvest in our restaurants, and focus on differentiated food and service initiatives are working, as we continue to track to our goal of doubling e.p.s.”

Comparable restaurant sales at Chili’s company-owned locations increased 1% in the second quarter, while sales rose 0.6% at Maggiano’s during the quarter.

In a Jan. 22 conference call with analysts, Mr. Roberts elaborated on some of the reasons behind the strong performance at Chili’s.

“In December, we introduced a new menu,” he said. “We refreshened our Lighter Choices category with new mango chili chicken and mango chili tilapia. We expanded our appetizer and dessert categories with the introduction of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and soft pretzel appetizers — items that work well with our new kitchen equipment. And now we’re rolling out our first major platform that takes advantage of our new ovens — pizza. We’re in the process of rolling out pizzas to all of our company-owned restaurants early third quarter, and will bring it to all our franchise systems once their new kitchens have been installed, more toward the end of the quarter.”

For the six months ended Dec. 26, the company had income of $65,041,000, or 89c per share, up 10% from $59,295,000, or 73c per share, during the same period of the previous year. Revenue for the six months was $1,373,271,000, up 2% from $1,350,306,000.
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