Shares of Bloomin' Brands (BLMN -1.76%), the restaurant operator that owns the Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, and Bonefish Grill chains, rose as much as 13% in the first hour of trading on Friday. The gain came after the company reported fourth-quarter 2021 earnings, which clearly pleased investors.
On the top line, Bloomin' Brands reported revenue of roughly $1.05 billion in the final quarter of 2021, up nearly 29% from the $813 million it brought through the door in the fourth quarter of 2020. It was also just a touch higher than the $1.02 billion in sales during the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic hit. Driving the top line was same-store sales growth of 20.7% at the company's Outback Steakhouse nameplate.
The top line wasn't the only good news. The company's adjusted restaurant-level operating margins improved to 16.5% in the fourth quarter of 2021, up 410 basis points from the 12.4% it achieved in the year-ago period. The current quarter's adjusted restaurant-level operating margins were also better than the 13.9% it managed in the final stanza of 2019. That's impressive given the inflationary headwinds facing the restaurant world today.
On the bottom line, Bloomin' Brands' adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.60, up from $0.02 in the fourth quarter of 2020 and $0.32 per share in the fourth quarter of 2019. No wonder investors were pleased. It looks like the company has managed to come out of the pandemic stronger than when it entered.
The good news doesn't stop there, either. The company beat Wall Street estimates on the top and bottom lines as well. Investors like good financial results and like it even more when those results beat analysts' consensus.
Bloomin' Brands is also looking for adjusted earnings to increase to $0.70 to $0.75 per share in the first quarter of 2022, so there could be more good news as the current year plays out.