The ink has not even dried on fiscal 2004, and Brinker
Brinker's fourth-quarter net income jumped to $64.5 million, or $0.67, from $40.2 million, on sales that rose 16.2% to $1.02 billion. Excluding a $3.9 million charge related to store closings, and an even larger charge from last year's fourth quarter, net earnings rose 27% to $0.71, in line with estimates. Results were aided in part by an extra operating week this year (14 vs. 13).
Same-store sales grew 5.6% at On the Border, 2.5% at Maggiano's, and 1.7% at Chili's, but those at Macaroni Grill fell by 1.7%. Rival Darden
Lately, overall same-store sales at multichain companies such as Darden and Brinker have been watered down compared with those that can focus on a single concept, such as Applebee's
On the positive side, Brinker's fourth-quarter operating margins improved substantially to 9.5%, although they fell for the year to 6.8%. Furthermore, the company has an active stock buyback program in place, picking up 6 million shares in the fourth quarter alone. However, management's pessimistic projections are troubling, and it is hard to get excited about Brinker's prospects until sales at Chili's -- which represent the bulk of the firm's total earnings -- show signs of improvement.
If you'd like to see the rest of the Fool's casual-dining menu, start with these:
Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter prefers On the Border's salsa to Chili's. He owns none of the companies mentioned.
More from The Motley Fool
Hate Checking Your Portfolio? Try These 2 High-Yield Stocks
If you agree with the notion that boring is good, then check out this energy company and this petroleum pipeline operator.
What Is a Family Limited Partnership?
Want a way to protect your family's wealth from the IRS? Enter the FLP.
Will This Tiny Biotech Be Celgene's Next Takeover Target?
Depending on data later this year, Celgene may want to buy this collaboration partner.