The franchise pizza industry has enjoyed a nice run over the past two years. Domino's
We know from California's earnings warning, released earlier this month, that it would fall just shy of analyst expectations on both the top and bottom line. Same-store sales growth of 5.3% -- while nothing to sneeze at -- was lower than what management had previously anticipated. Weaker comps led to net sales growth of 8.9% year over year. Among the company's explanations: Remodeling delays resulted in more days of store closure than originally planned. It was refreshing to hear management take part of the blame for this in the conference call, attributing it to "poor planning." Management's willingness to step up and take some responsibility for the failure speaks volumes about its integrity.
While sales were weaker, gross margins remained relatively flat from the year-ago period. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the bottom line, which saw a net income decline of 39.2%. The company was hit with a few one-time charges, including stock-based compensation expenses, legal settlement costs, and charges associated with the aforementioned store closures.
As a whole, the picture looks kind of bleak, right? Not so fast. Listening in on the conference call pointed to an optimism based on intentional planning rather than pie-in-the-sky hopefulness. California Pizza Kitchen believes it is well-positioned for solid, sustainable long-term growth. The company previously projected 10% to 15% annual growth as it tempered its unit developments in favor of improved site selection. With its site-selection strategy in place, solid cash flow and a squeaky-clean balance sheet, California Pizza Kitchen is now comfortable upping its annual growth targets to a range of 15% to 20%.
Current figures are nothing to write home about, but they're also no reason to write off this investment opportunity. If the stock weakens in the coming days in response to past results, anyone with at least a three-to-five-year investment horizon would do well to take a closer look at California Pizza Kitchen.
For more mouth-watering Foolishness:
Chipotle Mexican Grill
(NYSE:CMG)hit the Street running.
(NYSE:EAT)looked better than anticipated, with strength from Chili's.
- And is Outback Steakhouse
(NYSE:OSI)teaming up with supermarkets?
Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares of any companies mentioned.