Sonic drives in solid first quarter

by Monica Watrous
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Cheesecake bites, new spicy chicken sandwiches and the extension of its summer shake promotion help lift sales for Sonic Corp. during the first quarter.

For the quarter ended Nov. 30, 2013, the drive-in restaurant chain had net income of $8,208,000, equal to 15 cents per share on the common stock, up 34 percent from $6,133,000, or 11 cents per share, during the prior-year period. Excluding a tax benefit from a favorable tax ruling, net income increased 26 percent.
Total revenues increased slightly to $126,652,000 from $126,008,000.

“Fiscal year 2014 is off to a solid start as we focus on key initiatives such as increased media effectiveness, our innovative product pipeline and layered day-part promotional strategy to drive same-store sales growth and, in turn, margin improvement,” said Cliff Hudson, chairman, CEO and president. “During the first quarter we built on our solid foundation of service, products and pricing with increased media effectiveness, which is having a positive impact across all markets.”

System-wide same-store sales grew 2.2 percent during the quarter. The company opened seven new franchise drive-ins, compared with one during the first quarter of fiscal 2013.

For the remainder of the fiscal year, the company expects to drive 14 percent to 15 percent earnings per share growth, with positive same-store sales in the low single-digit range, 40 to 50 new franchise drive-in openings and fewer closings than in fiscal 2013 and above-average system performance in the latter half of the fiscal year with the addition of new technology.

“Over the next few years, we are implementing a number of technology initiatives such as a new digital point-of-purchase technology and a new point-of-sale system to drive improved sales and profits for our brand,” Hudson said. “We believe these initiatives will fuel our multi-layered growth strategy and will enable us to achieve double-digit earnings per share growth in the near and long term.”
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