What: Shares of Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC) rose more than 11% early Tuesday, then closed at up nearly 8% after the drive-in fast-food chain reported delicious fiscal-fourth-quarter 2015 results.
So what: Quarterly revenue rose 7% year over year to $175.3 million, driven by a combination of 7.3% same-store sales growth and new locations. In total during the fiscal year, Sonic opened 41 new drive-ins (including 18 during the quarter) and rebuilt 30 locations. That translated to a 22.8% increase in adjusted net income to $23.1 million, and -- thanks to Sonic's decision to spend $124 million in fiscal 2015 to repurchase 7.4% of all outstanding shares -- 26.5% growth in adjusted net income per share to $0.43.
Analysts, on average, were anticipating the same revenue, but slightly lower adjusted earnings of $0.42 per share.
Now what: In addition, Sonic expects fiscal 2016 earnings per share to increase 16% to 20%, resulting in a new per-share range of $1.28 to $1.32, and an increase from its previous guidance of 14% to 18%. The new range assumes planned share repurchases of $126 million (concentrated in the first half of the year), systemwide same-store sales growth of 2% to 4%, 50 to 60 new franchise drive-in openings, and drive-in-level margin improvement between 75 and 125 basis points.
By contrast, consensus estimates called for adjusted earnings per share to increase roughly 15.4% to $1.27.
In the end, there's no denying this was a solid report relative to expectations. With shares of Sonic trading at around 20 times this year's expected earnings -- a reasonable premium given its growth -- and keeping in mind its consistent outperformance of late, I won't be the least bit surprised if Sonic stock continues to reward patient shareholders going forward.
Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.