Double-digit bottom-line growth, as well as a stock dividend, pleased investors of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
For the first quarter of fiscal 2008, Rocky Mountain saw net sales increase 8%, coming in at $7.3 million. Net profit jumped 11% to $1 million, and earnings per diluted share rose 21% to $0.17. These are the kinds of chocolaty morsels that shareholders crave.
But there were some weak statistics as well. Same-store sales for franchised locations eked out just a 1% gain, and same-store pounds of confections sold to franchisees dropped 9%.
Nevertheless, there are some clues that Rocky Mountain is confident about its ability to deliver future shareholder value. In May, management announced a buyback of up to $5 million of stock. Rocky Mountain plans to open 10 stores in the second quarter, and it hopes to have between 35 and 40 new locations opened by the end of the fiscal year. The quarterly cash dividend was raised last month, and the company plans a 5% stock dividend. Taken together, these items do seem to give Rocky Mountain a firmly positive outlook.
The company is looking for earnings to appreciate in 2008 by somewhere between 15% and 20%. This would be a nice achievement, considering that Rocky Mountain grew earnings in 2007 by 23%. It looks as though investors don't necessarily have to stick with confectioners such as Hershey
Rocky Mountain's latest 10-K shows that it does pretty well in terms of free cash flow and that it can easily cover its dividend obligations. This strong start to a new fiscal year follows an upbeat fourth quarter, and my sense is that the company will continue to please its shareholders. The stock is sitting near a 52-week high, but at a 2.2% yield, it wouldn't surprise me if it goes even higher at some point.
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 15,190 out of more than 60,000 investors in Motley Fool CAPS. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.