California Pizza Kitchen raises guidance for Q1

by Eric Schroeder
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LOS ANGELES — The February rollout of a new “Small Cravings” menu led to stronger February and March comparable sales at California Pizza Kitchen, Inc. As a result, the company has raised its earnings-per-share guidance for the first quarter of fiscal 2010 to 10c per share from 5c to 7c forecast earlier. The increase also reflects a 3c benefit for gift card breakage.

“February and March comparable sales results surpassed our expectation, and we credit this to the successful launch of our call center, expansion of our wine selections and our catering programs, along with the February rollout of our new Small Cravings menu,” said Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax, co-chief executive officers of California Pizza Kitchen. “Similar to the fourth quarter of 2009, first quarter 2010 comparable sales showed improvement on both a quarter-over-quarter and sequential basis across the dine-in, take-out and delivery channels. We are pleased that fundamentals continue to improve and we remain confident in our outlook for the full year.”

Full-first quarter earnings are expected to be released May 6, but California Pizza Kitchen said preliminary revenues for the quarter ended April 4 totaled $156.7 million, down 3% from $161.1 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2009.

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