Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of El Pollo Loco Holdings (NASDAQ:LOCO) were up 11% as of 11:45 a.m. Friday after the restaurant chain announced delicious fourth-quarter results.
So what: Quarterly revenue climbed 18% year over year (or 11.9% on a comparable 13-week basis) to $90 million, which translated to adjusted net income of $5.5 million, or $0.14 per diluted share. Analysts, on average, were expecting adjusted earnings of $0.12 per share on sales of $87.5 million.
"Our systemwide comparable restaurant sales growth of 7.6% marked our 14th consecutive quarter of positive comparable restaurant sales growth," added El Pollo Loco CEO Steve Sather, "as our unique 'QSR-plus' positioning, compelling value proposition, and broad menu offerings anchored by our signature fire-grilled chicken, continue to resonate with customers."
Now what: For the full year 2015, El Pollo Loco expects to open 16 new company-owned restaurants, and 11 new franchised locations. For reference, as of Dec. 31, 2014, El Pollo Loco had 415 total locations, including 172 company-owned and 243 franchised restaurants.
Meanwhile, 2015 comparable-restaurant sales should grow 3% to 5%. When all is said and done, El Pollo Loco says, this should result in adjusted net income per diluted share of $0.67 to $0.71, the midpoint of which would represent a 25.4% increase over 2014. Wall Street was modeling fiscal 2015 earnings of $0.68 per share.
All things considered, I can't blame the market for its enthusiasm given today's solid beat. But El Pollo Loco certainly doesn't look cheap trading around 48 times trailing-12-month earnings, and 38 times this year's expected figure. Given the recent run, and as an investor currently on the sidelines, that's why I don't mind patiently waiting for a better entry point going forward.