No Capers at California Pizza Kitchen

I'm not a fan of capers, yet they somehow manage to sneak into my chicken piccata whenever I order it at California Pizza Kitchen (Nasdaq: CPKI  ) . Speaking of capers, you're not going to believe how well the casual-dining chain is doing in this otherwise tricky environment.

The restaurateur saw second-quarter revenues surge 16.4% higher to $158.6 million in its preliminary report last night. Earnings before an early termination charge related to an unopened unit rose 15% to $0.23 per share. Comps were up a healthy 5.4%.

Yes, these numbers are in line with the guidance that CPK provided two months ago, but a lot has happened since then. P.F. Chang's (Nasdaq: PFCB  ) and Ruth's Chris (Nasdaq: RUTH  ) are among the chains posting negative comps for the latest quarter. Sure, CPK isn't alone in bucking the trend -- Cheesecake Factory (Nasdaq: CAKE  ) , Panera (Nasdaq: PNRA  ) , and even Denny's (Nasdaq: DENN  ) all closed out the period with small gains, but they didn't turn in anything as heady as CPK's 5.4% unit-level boost.

The showing is refreshing on its own, but it's even more impressive when it's stacked on top of last year's 4.5% comps gain.

The 213-unit chain of mostly company-owned stores is clearly doing well. The company will provide a little more color to its numbers when the complete report is out next month. Until then, I'll forgive it a few stray capers. I don't mind being surprised by unexpected greenery.

For more on what's happening at these restaurants, check out:         

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz enjoys CPK's Thai pizza, but it's the chicken piccata that's been calling out to him since a new restaurant opened near his Coral Gables home earlier this year. He does own shares in Cheesecake Factory. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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