SAN DIEGO — Expect to see more nontraditional menu items popping up at Jack in the Box Inc. The quick-service restaurant company plans to introduce products that are "uniquely flavorful, culturally relevant and affordable," said Leonard A. Comma, chairman and chief executive officer.
"Over the years, we've built a lot of equity around products unheard of at most burger chains," Mr. Comma said during an Aug. 9 earnings call. "Like teriyaki bowls, jalapeño poppers and tacos."
Another recent introduction, Sauced and Loaded Fries, features french fries smothered in cheddar cheese sauce and guacamole, plus carne asada, chipotle chicken or chorizo. The company also is offering for a limited time Munchie Mash-Ups, which include toppings such as eggs and bacon or chicken nuggets with Frank's RedHot Buffalo Sauce on a bed of crispy hash browns and white cheese sauce.
Such menu items are examples of "where we're headed with our menu strategy," Mr. Comma said.
"And we'll be unashamedly us when it comes to promoting these products," he said. "Our guests love our brand's irreverent humor, and they want us to push the envelope when it comes to creatively messaging our offerings."
Net earnings in the third quarter ended July 8 totaled $45,307,000, equal to $1.62 per share on the common stock, up from $36,351,000, or $1.23 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenues of $187,983,000 were down from $246,101,000.
Results include the discontinued operations of Qdoba Restaurant Corp., which the company sold to Apollo Global Management, L.L.C. on March 21.
"For the quarter, our operating results were in line with expectations," Mr. Comma said. "System same-store sales returned to positive territory. We're pleased this momentum has continued into the fourth quarter without resorting to deep discounting that we believe is not in the best interest for the long-term health of our brand."
System same-store sales in the quarter increased 0.5%, and company same-store sales grew 0.6%, driven by growth in average check, partially offset by a decline in transactions.
"This is an exciting time for Jack in the Box," Mr. Comma said. "We can clearly see opportunities to evolve the brand to meet the consumer's new definition of convenience, add more diverse flavors to the menu, fix some of our long-standing inconsistencies in operations, capitalize on the personality and long-standing value system of the brand through advertising and brand positioning, invest in long-term health of the brand through targeted capital investments and return a significant amount of cash to shareholders."