On July 24, CEC Entertainment
I realize the new Shrek, Spider-Man, and Pirates of the Caribbean movies were powerful draws for the kids (and adults!), but it seems like a strange excuse. Movie tickets for a family of four can cost upwards of $30, while a day at Chuck E. Cheese is likely to cost less. In my own experience, I bring three kids and spend about $25 for the afternoon. Not only does that buy a meal, it also provides hours of video games.
There's no doubt that increased gas and food prices are affecting family restaurants; CEC's same-store sales fell 1.6% during the quarter. CBRL Group
CEC also slashed its earnings expectations for the second half. It now expects to earn $1.96-$2.04 a share, versus its prior guidance of $2.25-$2.30. Despite the difficult environment, which one would assume is temporary, CEC announced that it will spend more than $116 million (according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations) to renovate 55 restaurants, expand 18 stores, and make 85 to 90 game expansions. That's a hefty price tag for some macroeconomic events and a temporary diversion from a strong string of movies!
Investors looking for a quick turnaround at CEC may be disappointed. It appears its problems are more company-specific than management is letting on (why else go through expensive renovations?). I think the mouse may be hiding more than cheese.
CEC Entertainment is a former Hidden Gems selection. To see all of the current recommendations, try the newsletter free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and promises to read it when not being wrestled by his three children. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned.