It has been a volatile ride for Zoe's Kitchen (NYSE:ZOES) so far in 2015. By July, shares had surged by more than 50%, only to give up nearly all of those gains by mid-November. The volatility is likely to continue when the Mediterranean dining chain reports third quarter results on Nov. 19.
Here are some key items to watch for in the report, which will likely determine whether future volatility trends to the upside or downside.
Is this growth story still intact?
When it comes to a relatively young restaurant concept like Zoe's Kitchen, investors typically demand many years of rapid growth. These investors are often willing to accept lower levels of current profitability as long as top line revenue growth remains impressive. So investors will not only be focused on the quarterly revenue figure but also the company's full-year sales outlook.
For the third quarter, investors will likely want to see revenue growth of at least 28%. Probably even more important, shareholders will look for any comments from management as to whether the company remains on track to hit its full-year revenue guidance of $220 million to $224 million.
Can Zoe's Kitchen continue to compete and win?
To gain insight into the competitive dynamics of this industry, we can look to metrics such as comparable-restaurant sales. Strong comp growth can be a sign that Zoe's restaurants are taking share within their markets.
In addition, within these comp figures, positive traffic growth can give investors confidence that Zoe's Kitchen is not cannibalizing its existing store base as it opens new restaurants. And price increases will tell us if Zoe's Kitchen was able to pass rising costs on to its customers, which, when combined with traffic growth, can give evidence of Zoe's pricing power.
In this regard, investors will likely want to see positive traffic growth and comparable-restaurant sales growth of at least 5%.
How to access the results
Zoe's Kitchen will announce its third quarter results tomorrow at approximately 4 p.m. ET. Investors can tune in to its live conference call, where management will discuss the quarter's results at 4:30 p.m. ET. Both the release and a link to the conference call will be available at the company's investor relations website.