Texas Roadhouse (TXRH -0.13%) continues to prove its worth in the highly competitive restaurant market. The company delivered its 40th consecutive quarter of comparable-restaurant sales growth, highlighting the strength of its casual-dining concept. A combination of great service and competitively priced steaks, ribs, and burgers continues to win over customers.
If investors had doubts about Texas Roadhouse's ability to keep growing its business rapidly, they may want to revisit the drawing board. The company's revenue growth easily beat analysts' expectations, and 2020 is off to a strong start.
Here's a look at the casual-dining company's fourth-quarter results.
Fourth-quarter earnings by the numbers
Texas Roadhouse's fourth-quarter revenue jumped 19.7% year over year to $725 million. Analysts, on average, were expecting revenue of $714 million. This growth rate was a significant acceleration from 9.4% revenue growth in Q3. But the quarter notably benefited from an extra week compared to Q4 2018.
Earnings per share (EPS) were $0.61, up 45% from $0.42 in the year-ago quarter. This crushed the consensus analyst estimate of $0.52. Helping the company's profitability was a robust restaurant margin of 17.2%, up 117 basis points year over year. Restaurant margin was driven by an extra week during the quarter, higher average checks from guests, and increased labor productivity. But these benefits were partially offset by higher wages and commodity inflation.
The company also said it's boosting its quarterly dividend by 20% to $0.36. This comes out to $1.44 per share annually.
Comparable-restaurant sales momentum
A key metric that Texas Roadhouse investors watch is comparable-restaurant sales growth, or the year-over-year growth in sales for restaurants open 18 months prior to the period being measured. Texas Roadhouse is seeing robust momentum on this key metric.
In Q4, comparable-restaurant sales were up 4.4% at company restaurants and 3.4% at domestic franchise restaurants. While 4.4% growth at company restaurants is in line with the growth seen in Q3, Texas Roadhouse's comparable-restaurant sales growth at domestic franchises was an acceleration from 3.2% growth in Q3.
But here's where it gets even more exciting: Texas Roadhouse revealed in its fourth-quarter update on Thursday that comparable-restaurant sales at company restaurants during the first seven weeks of 2020 rose 6.4%.
Looking out to the full 2020 year, management guided for positive comparable-restaurant sales growth and at least 30 restaurant openings, adding to the 610 restaurants that Texas Roadhouse has systemwide today.