Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (NASDAQ:RRGB) ended 2018 with more sales declines, the company revealed in its fourth-quarter and full-year update on Tuesday afternoon. Both total sales and comparable restaurant revenue were down meaningfully on a year-over-year basis.

Here's a closer look at the quarter's performance, which closed out a challenging year for the company.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers restaurant

Image source: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

Red Robin's fourth-quarter results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q4 2018

Q4 2017

Change (YOY)

Revenue

$306.8 million

$343.9 million

(10.8%)

Adjusted EPS*

$0.43

$0.73

(45%)

Data source: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers' fourth-quarter earnings release. *Earnings per share is adjusted to exclude one-time items. 

Fourth-quarter highlights

  • Red Robin's fourth-quarter revenue included a $24.3 million negative impact from having one fewer week in 2018 than in 2017.
  • Adjusted for the extra week in the year-ago quarter, revenue fell 3.7% year over year.
  • Adjusted EPS fell 45% year over year to $0.43.
  • The company lost $0.82 per share on a GAAP basis, down from earnings per share of $0.68 in the year-ago quarter.
  • Comparable restaurant revenue decreased 4.5% in constant currency, worse than declines of 3.4% and 2.6% in the third and second quarter of 2018, respectively.

What management had to say

"2018 was a very challenging sales year and the fourth quarter continued that trend, buoyed somewhat by better than expected growth in our new catering business, but dragged down by weakness at in-line mall locations," said Red Robin CEO Denny Marie Post in the company's earnings release.

But Post said the company made "measurable progress on the operations fundamentals we identified last August as critical to gradually regaining our momentum in 2019." Specifically, Post said the company was better prepared to serve seasonally higher traffic thanks to "improved staffing, scheduling, and execution leading to shorter wait times, fewer guests walking away, and improved kitchen time to table by the end of the quarter."

Check out the latest Red Robin earnings call transcript.

Looking forward

Looking ahead, Post says the company will continue to focus on improving its operations and marketing while making strategic investments in "technology and resources that will yield benefits by mid-year."

Importantly, Red Robin guided for comparable restaurant revenue growth in 2019 between flat and 1.5%, marking a return to growth for the key metric based on the midpoint of this range.

Red Robin also said it expects earnings per share for the year to be between $1.30 and $1.70.