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Dine Brands Global (DIN -1.59%)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May. 01, 2019, 9:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Welcome to the first-quarter 2019 Dine Brands Global earnings conference call. My name is Paulette, and I will be your operator for today's call. [Operator instructions] Please note that this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to Ken Diptee, executive director of investor relations.

You may begin.

Ken Diptee -- Executive Director of Investor Relations

Thank you. Good morning, and welcome to Dine Brands' first-quarter conference call. I'm joined by Steve Joyce, CEO; Tom Song, CFO; Darren Rebelez, president of IHOP; John Cywinski, president of Applebee's. Before I turn the call over to Steve, please remember our safe harbor regarding forward-looking information.

During the call, management may discuss information that is forward-looking and involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the actual results to be different than those expressed or implied. Please evaluate the forward-looking information in the context of these factors, which were detailed in today's press release and 10-Q filing. The forward-looking statements are as of today and assume no obligation to update or supplement these statements. We may also make reference to certain non-GAAP financial measures, which are described in our press release and also available on our website.

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With that, I'll turn the call over to Steve.

Steve Joyce -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Ken. Good morning, everyone. Following very strong results for fiscal-year 2018, Dine Brands started the year with a very impressive first quarter. Our performance reflects taking a long-term approach to managing the business and focusing on growth drivers that deliver sustainable, positive results through industry and economic fluctuations.

We've implemented multi-pronged strategies at both Applebee's and IHOP that essentially address every aspect of the guest experience, which includes how our guests engage with the brands, meeting their convenience needs, either in our restaurants or off-premises, as well as meeting their culinary expectations through innovation. Our holistic strategy has provided a solid foundation to drive positive performance and has led to marked improvement in results for both Applebee's and IHOP. With that, I'm pleased to report continued comp sales growth at both brands in the first quarter of 2019. Applebee's posted its sixth consecutive quarter of comp sales growth, and IHOP posted its fifth.

I'd also like to highlight that both brands achieved comp sales growth, despite industry headwinds in February, which had an adverse impact on the overall industry traffic. John and Darren are going to provide updates on the strategies being implemented at their respective brands a little bit later. Now let's switch gears to the corporate level. Our work to restore growth at both brands has led to continued improvement in our core business, as reflected in robust first-quarter adjusted EPS of $1.90, which compares very favorably to $1.11 in the first quarter of last year.

In the first quarter, we experienced positive results in several key metrics. Franchise segment gross profit increased by approximately 21% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same quarter last year. Total revenues, excluding advertising revenues, were up 32% compared to the first quarter of 2018. Combined systemwide sales held steady at approximately $2 billion.

Improvement in our franchise operations and diligent management of our two largest expenses, G&A and franchise segment expenses, contributed to continued strong growth in several key metrics compared to the first quarter of 2018. This includes a 23% increase in gross profit, a 71% increase in adjusted EPS, as well as a 40% growth in adjusted EBITDA. Dine's performance reflects the momentum of our core business and the advantages of having an asset-light model, which enables us to generate substantial and stable adjusted free cash flow. For the first quarter of 2019, adjusted free cash flow grew approximately 81% compared to the same quarter of last year.

Additionally, we are focusing on technology at both Applebee's and IHOP to improve the guest experience, remove friction points, and improve operational efficiency. We are making foundational changes on this front, which includes enhanced Wi-Fi at our restaurants, wireless pay-at-the-table devices, our no-wait tool to reduce wait times at arrival in the restaurant, the I-have-arrived tool to provide a guest with a means to notify the restaurant they have arrived for their pick-up order, new payment methods like mobile pay, and improved CRM for greater personalization and one-to-one marketing capabilities. Technology is a major focus. It is a key component to remove friction from our guests and enhance guest engagement.

We are very pleased with our achievements in the first quarter and are optimistic about the remainder of 2019 for several reasons. To name a few, the strategies implemented at both brands are producing positive results. We have strong programs in place this year at both Applebee's and IHOP, inclusive of culinary and advertising strategies. We're exploring meaningful development opportunities at both brands in urban and nontraditional areas to expand our domestic footprint.

The appeal of Applebee's has significantly improved, and our guests have a renewed attraction to the brand. We expect continued net unit growth at IHOP franchisees, which has consistently outpaced the family dining category. Our international operations are an important part of our growth strategy, as we recently announced a deal to develop 19 IHOP locations in Pakistan over the next nine years. And lastly, our off-premise business continues to gain traction.

We believe this segment of the business has additional growth potential, as we optimize our delivery platform and expand into catering. We are particularly pleased with consumer adoption of digital ordering, which yields a higher average check and enables us to develop stronger one-to-one marketing going forward. With all of the great work being done at Dine to deliver sustainable growth, I would like to provide some color on how we're thinking about the business. With both brands on solid footing and our Applebee's franchisees in a stronger position, we will continue to manage the brands with a long-term view by implementing plans that have a sustainable, positive impact.

This approach is inclusive of initiatives to improve franchisee profitability, focusing on operations excellence in our restaurants that elevate the guest experience, offering promotions aimed at driving repeat visits and brand loyalty, and strategic traditional and non-traditional development. We believe these are key to brand longevity and sustaining our current trajectory. with that, I'm going to turn the call over to Tom to discuss the financial results. Tom?

Tom Song -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Steve. Good morning, everyone. Our solid first-quarter results reflect the continued positive performance of our two category-leading brands and a sharpened focus on elevating the guest experience through investments in guest-facing technology, culinary innovation, and operations excellence in our restaurants. With the performance-based culture we have developed at Dine and our analytic approach to decision making, we believe our trajectory is sustainable over the long term.

Now let's turn to a brief recap of the first-quarter highlights, starting with the notable changes on the income statement. For the first quarter of 2019, adjusted EPS was $1.90, compared to $1.11 for the same quarter of 2018. The 71% increase was primarily due to higher gross profit, since the $13.5 million franchisewide contribution made to the Applebee's national advertising fund in the first quarter of 2018 did not recur this year. Additionally, the operations, 69 company-operated Applebee's restaurants, which we acquired last December, favorably impacted gross profit by $4.2 million, partially offset by approximately $1.4 million in foregone royalties.

I'd like to highlight four drivers that are also contributing to the significant increase in franchise operations gross profit. Applebee's franchise fee revenue in the first quarter of 2019 increased by approximately 6% compared to the same quarter a year ago, primarily due to the improvement in collections as a direct result of a much healthier franchisee base. IHOP franchise revenue grew by 4% in the first quarter compared to the same quarter of 2018, primarily due to higher sales of product mix and an increase in effective franchise restaurants, as the result of net restaurant development over the previous 12 months. And both brands benefited from the strong comp performance over the past year.

Regarding total franchise operations expenses, the overall decline was due to both the lack of franchise or advertising contributions, and previously mentioned, and the significant decline in Applebee's bad-debt expense compared to the first quarter of 2018. Importantly, we anticipate that bad debt will continue to remain at these low levels going forward. Turning to G&A, our G&A for the first quarter of 2019 was $43 million, compared to $42 million for the same period of last year. The increase was primarily due to higher personnel-related costs, partially offset by a decline in costs for professional services.

We will continue to diligently manage our G&A and expect modest growth over the long term, consistent with the rate of inflation. We're pleased that we have been able to hold G&A relatively flat year over year, despite increasing our total revenues. Excluding company restaurant sales for the quarter by over 7% from last year, excluding G&A attributable to those company restaurant sales, G&A in the first quarter decreased year over year. As a reminder, our G&A during the second half of the year is generally affected by the timing of certain expenses.

Regarding our tax rate, our GAAP effective tax rate for the first quarter of 2019 was 23.1%, compared to 24.8% for the first quarter of last year. The tax rate was lower compared to the same quarter of 2018 because the company recognized excess tax benefits on share-based compensation during 2019 due to the recent strong stock performance. The excess tax benefit is a result of the company's tax deduction associated with share-based compensation being higher than the book expense reported on the income statement. Turning briefly to the balance sheet, effective January 1, we adopted new lease accounting guidance known as ASC 842.

As a result, I would like to call out notable changes to the balance sheet. We are now required to recognize operating lease obligations. And offsetting these amounts, we also recognize operating lease right-of-use assets. The implementation of ASC 842 resulted in Dine reporting liabilities of approximately $453 million, and after various reclassifications and adjustments, offsetting assets of $396 million.

The adoption of the ASC 842 had no significant impact on our cash flows from operations or our results from operations. Turning to cash flow statements, our highly franchised model continued to generate strong adjusted free cash flow for the first quarter of 2019 of approximately $28 million, compared to approximately $15 million for the same quarter of 2018. The favorable variance was due to an increase of $12 million in cash from operations compared to the same quarter of 2018, primarily due to higher net income. The increase in net income was mainly due to higher gross profit, for the reasons discussed earlier.Net changes in working capital used cash of approximately $13 million in the first quarter of 2019, compared to using cash of approximately $7 million during the same period of the prior year.

Consolidated adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter of 2019 rose sharply to $74.6 million, compared to $53.2 million for the same quarter of last year. I would like to highlight that, excluding advertising revenue, our adjusted EBITDA margins for the first quarter of 2019 improved by 260 basis points to 45.4% from 42.8% for the first quarter of last year. Both brands contributed to the solid performance this quarter and achieved improving adjusted EBITDA margins. The return of capital to our shareholders remains a top priority.

In the first quarter, we returned a combined total of over $23 million. This was comprised of approximately $11 million in quarterly cash dividends and the repurchase of approximately 151,000 shares of our common stock at a total cost of approximately $12 million. As mentioned in our press release this morning, we reiterate our financial performance guidance issued on February 21. To close, improvement in our core business and solid fundamentals led to strong results for the first quarter.

Both brands continue to deliver impressive positive performance. We'll continue to execute on our broad-based strategies, which are grounded in consumer insights. To drive the business forward, we are focused on high-growth investments that will have the most impactful results for our two strong brands. With that, I'll now turn the call over to John.

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

Thanks, Tom, and good morning, everyone. Applebee's momentum continued in Q1 as we posted our sixth consecutive quarter of positive comp sales growth. We delivered a plus 1.8% comp sales performance in Q1 on top of last year's plus 3.3% performance, resulting in very healthy two-year comp sales of plus 5.1% for the quarter. The full-quarter reflects strong January and March results, with a challenging February sandwiched in between.

As we look back, it's clear that February was an anomaly within the quarter, largely due to unfavorable weather and absence of an overt value proposition, which we did have in January with all-you-can-eat and in March with three-course meal. As with each of the past six quarters, according to Black Box, Applebee's has outperformed the casual dining category on comp sales. This is particularly noteworthy in Q1, as we're lapping a plus 3.3 [Inaudible] from a year ago, while the category, excluding Applebee's, was lapping a relatively easy minus 0.4. Yet we still outperformed the CDR category by 115 basis points.

Now, on the asset front, we're winding down our three-year strategy of closing underperforming restaurants, as we expect about 20 to 30 closures in 2019, with most of those being domestic. For context, we had four closures in the U.S. in Q1. This is very good news for the brand as we transition to a predictable closure rate of approximately 1% annually, beginning next year.

Additionally, in Q1, our top three comp sales performers are the newest entities within the Applebee's system, including our recently acquired company restaurants in North and South Carolina. With only four months under our belt, we're very pleased with our results and the progress we've made to date. We're proud of the fact that we've retained 92 of 96 general managers and 100% of our above-restaurant leadership as part of this transition. And our top priority post-acquisition continues to be the coaching and development of our restaurant teams, as we reestablish a best-in-class operating culture in the Carolinas.

Now, on a full-system basis, our franchise partners continue to elevate their restaurant-level execution. This is evident with our two most important brand attributes, overall satisfaction and value for the money. As of February, according to NPD CREST, Applebee's has now achieved an all-time high on both guest satisfaction and value for the money, surpassing our primary competitors. This is a big achievement for Applebee's and supported by significant improvements over the past year on brand affinity and recommend-to-a-friend, according to our internal brand tracker.

In total these four attributes are meaningful differentiators and fundamental leading indicators of brand preference and loyalty, which is our ultimate objective. Shifting to Applebee's off-premise business, we continue to outperform CDR with respect to off-premise comp sales. The category, excluding Applebee's, is growing at about a 15% rate, while Applebee's is growing at a 40% rate, although I expect off-premise growth to moderate a bit as we lap 30% to 40% growth from a year ago. At the close of Q1, off-premise accounted for 13% of total system sales and will likely exceed 20% of mix within two to three years.

At present, we have approximately 600 restaurants utilizing a third-party call center for to-go orders, which has improved our guest experience, average check, and order accuracy. For context, about 60% to 70% of Applebee's total off-premise orders are now placed digitally, or online. The CDR category, among many categories, is currently experiencing a fundamental convenience-driven shift in off-premise demand, driven primarily by delivery and secondarily by to-go. Since 2017, according to Black Box, CDR on-premise comp sales have declined, while off-premise comps have grown at a double-digit rate, with delivery representing the primary growth engine.

This is true across QSR, fast-casual family dining and upscale dining, upscale-casual, as well as casual dining of course. I expect this trend to continue until delivery penetration matures and stabilizes. I fully expect the cost of the third-party delivery to be passed along to the guest, who will likely be willing to pay more for the convenience of delivery. This is a necessity, given the margin implications of third-party fees.

Our ultimate objective is margin neutrality, as guests define what Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood means to them, and that may be dine-in, to-go, or off-premise, depending on their occasion. Without question, the off-premise landscape and business model are evolving rapidly and will continue to do so moving forward. At present, Applebee's has about 1,200 restaurants participating in some form of delivery, and we anticipate between 1,400 and 1,500 participating restaurants by year end. Included in this mix is Applebee's last-mile delivery through our own website, as well as third-party delivery.

Restaurant margins remain a top priority for the brand, and our restaurant profitability initiative is very much on track to deliver 100 basis points of P&L cost reduction here in 2019. While most of these savings will flow to the restaurants' bottom line, we're also selectively reinvesting where we have quality opportunities on the menu. This is a terrific example of us leveraging our supply chain scale as a primary point of difference that smaller brands simply can't replicate. As we look forward, our franchise partners are particularly excited about our May-through-December innovation plan.

In fact, Applebee's leadership team is meeting with our full-franchise community tomorrow -- actually, this evening and tomorrow -- to discuss brand strategy and restaurant execution around our upcoming plans. These plans include a comprehensive review of our near-term off-premise and technology initiatives, as well as our beverage and culinary innovations. In addition, the marketing team is making good progress on our CRM initiative, as we leverage data to better understand our guests and provide them with more targeted, personalized, and occasion-based communications. In closing, we remain aligned, confident, and optimistic about Applebee's position as America's kitchen table, and we continue to reduce operating variability while strengthening our leadership position in the category.

With that, I'll turn it to Darren.

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

All right. Thank you, John. Good morning, everyone. I'm pleased to report that IHOP's comp sales for the first quarter rose 1.2%.

This marks the fifth consecutive quarter that IHOP posted positive sales growth and outperformed the family dining category based on comp sales, according to Black Box data, by over 150 basis points. Our off-premise business continues to be a solid contributor to IHOP's sales growth. Off-premise comp sales in the first quarter increased by a healthy 54%, and off-premise traffic increased by approximately 40%. By comparison, off-premise comp sales and traffic growth were approximately 31% and 22% respectively for the first quarter of 2018.

We've implemented a fully integrated online ordering system through our enhanced website and IHOP's mobile app to create a complete omni-channel experience for our guests and additional touchpoints for the brand. The implementation of guest-facing technology has enabled us to grow our off-premise business to 9% of total sales, up from 5% in the first quarter of 2018. We believe to-go can increase to the low teens as a percentage of total sales over the next few years. IHOP's first-quarter sales growth reflects the execution of our comprehensive strategy, underpinned by four key pillars.

We believe our overall performance was adversely impacted by the unfavorable impact of Easter shifting into the second quarter of this year. Turning to the four key pillars of our broad-based strategy, these encompass reinventing the guest experience, running great restaurants, driving traffic, and being where the guest is. Regarding the first pillar of reinventing the guest experience, we know that IHOP's Rise N' Shine remodel program plays a big part in influencing perceptions of the brand. The remodel program has helped to successfully reshape the consumer experience, with a layout that feels more welcoming and appealing.

Our franchisees completed 35 remodels in the first quarter, and we expect to complete approximately 220 this year. We anticipate continuing at an estimated annual run rate in the range of approximately 200 to 250 until the program is completed. When combined with new restaurant openings since the inception of Rise 'N Shine remodel, over 1,100 restaurants, or approximately 65% of the domestic system, have the new image. The latest iteration of the remodel, Rise 'N Shine 2.0, ties in all aspects of enhancing the guest experience.

These updated restaurants are equipped with new technology, such as our no-wait tool to provide guests with more accurate wait times, thereby improving their overall dining experience. Other in-restaurant technology includes server tablets to improve speed and accuracy, and wireless credit card devices that are brought to the table. The device removes friction by allowing guests to quickly and conveniently pay, without ever having to release their credit card. I'm pleased to report that our sharpened focus on reinventing the guest experience has resulted in IHOP again achieving all-time high guest satisfaction scores, this time twice in the first quarter alone.

Turning to the second pillar, running great restaurants, operations excellence plays a pivotal role in not only ensuring guests of an enhanced dining experience in our restaurants, but also in exceeding their expectations on every visit. Our goal is to entice guests to return for that valuable incremental visit. To that end, we've elevated our focus and commitment to guest satisfaction, which has led to IHOP retaining its leadership position with the highest absolute scores among our peer group for overall satisfaction and revisit intent according to NPD CREST. Moving to the third pillar, driving traffic, we're leveraging our core equity in breakfast by providing guests with what they crave from IHOP, which is abundant value.

In the first quarter, we sweetened the deal by bringing back our very popular all-you-can-eat pancakes promotion and coupling it with any classic breakfast combo. Guests also have the option of enjoying the pancakes a la carte for only $4.99. Following the success of the breakfast combo promotion, we continued our focus on abundant value by introducing a new all-you-can-eat pancakes with any omelet promotion, which had a noticeable positive impact on our dinner daypart comps. To further drive incremental visits and build brand loyalty, we rebranded and relaunched our Pancake Revolution program as MyHop.

The primary goals this year are to increase membership and to entice members to come back for one more visit. In the first quarter, we grew our overall membership by approximately 9%. We believe this will serve as a solid foundation for our CRM platform and effectively facilitate one-to-one marketing. We'll provide additional progress updates in due course.

Another key component of our strategy to drive traffic is our off-premise business. The significant growth in our off-premise comp sales this quarter was primarily driven by a strong increase in comp traffic. We believe this business has further upside, as we continue to increase the number of restaurants offering delivery through more service providers. We now have close to 1,200 restaurants on the DoorDash platform, and there are over 1,250 restaurants participating with at least one delivery service provider.

Regarding the fourth pillar, being where the guest is, our franchisees developed six new domestic restaurants in the first quarter. We'll continue to explore developmental opportunities in dense urban locations, as well as travel centers, universities, and airports, where small and non-traditional formats are more suitable. Switching gears, we announced this year the winner of our 2019 IHOP Kid Chef Competition. We are very pleased to select six-year-old Brody Simoncini as this year's IHOP Kid Chef Champion.

As part of the IHOP Free Pancake Day Campaign, the Kid Chef Competition is an annual event that invites kids ages six to 16 who have been treated at a Children's Miracle Network Hospital to create their best pancake recipe. Brody earned this year's top honors with his Oreo Oh My Goodness pancakes. I'm happy to announce that we raised over $3 million for the Children's Miracle Network Hospital during this year's IHOP Free Pancake Day, including approximately $500,000 from the sale of Brody's Oreo pancakes. To close, we started the year with good momentum.

Our continued execution against IHOP's defined four-pillar strategy resulted in another strong quarter for the brand. We're very encouraged by the progress we've made in our to-go business over the past year, and we'll continue to look at off-premise opportunities to maximize the branch potential, including catering. Our culinary pipeline remains very strong, with a compelling combination of unique breakfast creations and a very strong value proposition. IHOP's fundamentals remain solid; our franchisees are healthy; we have a strategic roadmap to deliver continued positive results.

With that, I'll turn the call back over to Steve for his closing comments. Steve?

Steve Joyce -- Chief Executive Officer

OK. Thanks, Darren. To recap, we started the year with a solid quarter highlighted by significant improvement in our core business. We're enthusiastic about the remainder of 2019 as we continue to execute against our multi-pronged strategy, which has delivered positive results and positioned us for long-term success.

With that, we'd be pleased to open the call for questions. Operator?

Questions & Answers:


Thank you. [Operator instructions] And our first question comes Brian Vaccaro from Raymond James. Please go ahead.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Thank you, and good morning. I just want to revisit the comp cadence at Applebee's, if we could. And you know, I think February was slower, I'd assume due to the weather and lacking the value promo that you mentioned, John. But, I guess outside of weather, how do you view the underlying trend in the business? Was March similar to January? Can you give any perspective there? Have the promotions performed versus expectations? And then, were there any advertising mismatches that might have had an impact on the quarter?

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

Hey, Brian. This is John. The promotions absolutely performed as expected. We kicked off the year with all-you-can-eat, a combination of proteins.

As I mentioned, February was probably a bit self-inflicted in that we didn't have an overt value proposition in place and certainly had the impact that many have experienced in February from a weather perspective. And then March, three course meal very successful, so pleased with the quarter. It was a bit of a, you know, an up-and-down ride, so to speak, but we're pleased with the result and the outcome. Our franchisees are very pleased with that quarter.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

OK. And on Easter, could you quantify the impact that that had at IHOP, and was there any impact one way or the other at Applebee's?

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

Yeah, Brian, this is Darren. Yeah, we quantify that Easter mismatch impact is about 40 basis points on our overall comp sales.

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

And, Brian, from an Applebee's perspective, we wouldn't see perhaps the same impact that IHOP would see from a quarter-to-quarter basis in terms of Easter.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

OK. OK. And on the guidance, I just wanted to confirm that that includes reiterating your comp guidance for each brand. And if that's the case, could you walk through sort of the primary sales drivers, either product or technology, or just the primary sales drivers that you see having an impact as you move through '19 at Applebee's? And perhaps give an update on what you're seeing quarter to date at each brand.

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

Brian, this is John. We will continue our multi-pronged strategy, so our culinary innovation with a keen emphasis on abundant value is of primary importance to us. We have some significant innovations coming soon here within the brand. Our beverage program activation will continue on a monthly basis, and then of course our off-premise business.

And, you know, probably the one item we're most proud of is franchisee execution at the restaurant level. I mentioned a year, year and a half ago, the amount of variability we had in the system. That's tightened significantly. We have refined our portfolio, and in effect, have removed the bottom 10% of the system.

We've closed underperforming restaurants, and our franchise partners today are achieving, again, on overall satisfaction and value for the money, all-time high scores. So those are the fundamental components that will drive results. We're in a far better position than we have been for three years, quite frankly.

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

Yeah, Brian. On the IHOP side, we're really looking at some culinary innovation and platform news that will be layered in throughout the year. We feel very good about that. We'll continue to drive our off-premise business, and we had really solid comps in this last quarter, plus 50%.

We may not be able to maintain a plus 50, but we expect it to be very strong throughout the balance of the year. And then, getting further into our CRM platform with MyHop we believe will be a contributor as well. So between those three, we expect to be well within our guidance range for the year.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

OK. And any comments on quarter to date directionally? Are you maintaining a positive gap to the industry? Any color there?

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

We feel good about where we are, but we really don't want to get too granular on quarter-to-date performance.

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

All right. I'll pass it along.

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

Thanks, Brian.

Steve Joyce -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.


Our next question comes from Nick Setyan from Wedbush Securities. Please go ahead.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Thank you. When you talk about the operating initiatives at franchisees and the 100-basis-point-or-so target there, can you maybe talk about some of the details around, you know, what those initiatives are and where those 100 basis points are sort of coming from?

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

Sure, Nick, I won't provide too much color, but suffice it to say -- this is John -- on the Applebee's front, we're well on track to achieve our 100 basis points. As I mentioned, some of that will be reinvested back into the business, in particular on the menu front. The vast majority of those savings are leveraging scale and come in the form of menu. And a portion of those we're beginning to move into the labor front, which we hadn't tackled previously.

So primarily food, secondarily labor. These are what I would categorize as low hanging fruit opportunities, and in some cases, these are opportunities where we actually improve quality and reduce cost. We do this in partnership with our supply chain organization and our franchisees, and it's a distinct competitive advantage. It's something I, you know, fundamentally believe smaller brands would have a difficult time even attempting.

It requires discipline, and you're seeing it from both brands here.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Yeah. And in terms of the EBITDA guidance in range, you know, can you maybe give us some idea of what, you know, the variability there is with respect to if the comp isn't within the guidance range, is there some leeway there to still get to EBITDA targets for the year?

Tom Song -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, Nick, this is Tom. I think you're seeing that reflected in Q1 with respect to both, you know, when the comps fall out of that range but earnings flow-through is still very, very strong, I think it reflects our franchise business model. And frankly, let's not forget that we do have a small portion of the business which we recently acquired. That business was performing very strong and contributed to both gross profit and obviously the EBITDA line, as well.

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

And I know you don't want to really comment around April trends, but at least directionally, does April play a meaningful part in your reiterated guidance?

Tom Song -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, we haven't seen anything that would warrant a change in that guidance. Does that answer your question?

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Yeah. Well, thanks very much. Appreciate it.


Our next question comes from Stephen Anderson from the Maxim Group. Please go ahead.

Stephen Anderson -- Maxim Group -- Analyst

Yes. Good morning. I just wanted to maybe ask if I can dig a little deeper into the comps. You're looking at trends.

I wanted to see if you saw any regional differences. Also, wanted to ask if there were any shifts where you saw more strength on weekends versus weekdays. And maybe throw a little color also on the off-premise trends within that. Thank you.

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

Sure, this is Darren. I'll go ahead and start. Yeah, I would say from a geographic difference, we saw the biggest drag on our comps in the Midwest, and we would attribute that to weather. And that was -- when we modeled that out as a total impact on our overall comp sales, it was about 80 basis points overall, but the Midwest in particular was hit the hardest.

That obviously slowed us down, both in restaurant and with off-premise to a certain extent. But I think off-premise was able to help offset that to a certain extent, so it probably would have been worse had we not had this strong foundation with our meals-to-go program.

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

And, Stephen, on the Applebee's side, really haven't seen any distinction between weekday and weekend. They have both performed well for the brand, which is something that we had worked at. And then, similar to what Darren outlined for IHOP on the Applebee's front, the Midwest in the month of February in particular is where we saw the kind of geographic disparity. Secondarily, I'd say the Northeast, and that, again, concentrated in the month of February.

Stephen Anderson -- Maxim Group -- Analyst

All right. Thank you.


And we have no further questions. I will now turn the call over to Steve Joyce for closing comments.

Steve Joyce -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you. So we are very pleased, obviously, with the quarter we had. We appreciate your time today. We're scheduled to report results for the second quarter on July 31, and we look forward to talking to you about progress then.

Have a great day.


[Operator signoff]

Duration: 43 minutes

Call participants:

Ken Diptee -- Executive Director of Investor Relations

Steve Joyce -- Chief Executive Officer

Tom Song -- Chief Financial Officer

John Cywinski -- President of Applebee's

Darren Rebelez -- President of IHOP

Brian Vaccaro -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Nick Setyan -- Wedbush Securities -- Analyst

Stephen Anderson -- Maxim Group -- Analyst

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