Brinker net falls 58% in fiscal 2008

by Eric Schroeder
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DALLAS — Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s, On The Border and Maggiano’s, posted net income of $95,907,000 in the fiscal year ended June 25, equal to 93c per share on the common stock. This compared with income of $230,049,000, or $1.90 per share, in fiscal 2007.

Revenue fell 3% to $4,235,223,000, which compared with $4,376,904,000 during fiscal 2007.

During the year, Brinker, excluding Macaroni Grill, experienced a 0.3% increase in comparable restaurant sales, driven by positive sales at Chili’s in three of the four quarters.

Other actions taken during the year included re-imaging 73 Chili’s restaurants, with plans to continue the reimaging program in fiscal 2009 at a lower level of investment per restaurant, as well as the sale of 76 Chili’s restaurants to franchisee ERJ Dining IV, L.L.C.

Brinker opened 70 company-owned and 43 franchised restaurants in the United States and 32 international restaurants during the year.

"Our brands are responding to the difficult operating environment with a disciplined focus on delivering an outstanding dining experience for our guests’ investment of money and time," said Doug Brooks, chairman and chief executive officer. "We are driving this strategy with flavorful new menu offerings, updated restaurant atmosphere and guest-focused training for all positions. Our guests’ response to these efforts has been very favorable, as evidenced by the fact that Chili’s has outperformed the casual dining industry benchmark in terms of sales and traffic for four consecutive quarters."

Looking ahead, Brinker said it expects fiscal 2009 to be a "transitional period" as development shifts from company-owned to franchisee growth. The company also said it expects to face continuing cost of sales pressures from higher commodity costs.

Operating income in fiscal 2009 is expected to be about flat to 20 basis points lower than fiscal 2008 based on escalating costs, particularly in the cost of sales and depreciation, Brinker said.

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