Cracker Barrel earnings rise

by Erica Shaffer
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Cracker Barrel's oven-fried chicken is part of the company's Wholesome Fixin's offerings.

LEBANON, Tenn. – Menu innovations and promotions have paid off in higher earnings for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.

Net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2015 jumped 25 percent to $34.02 million, or $1.42 per diluted share, compared to $27.16 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, in the year ago quarter.

“We are pleased with our first quarter results, said Sandra Cochran, president and CEO. “We believe that our continued focus on enhancing the guest experience and operational improvements is reflected in the increase in comparable store traffic and sales, and in our operating margin. We saw meaningful progress during the quarter on our fiscal 2015 priorities and are confident that our focus on these initiatives will continue to positively impact the year’s results."

The company's menu innovations included a build-out of its Wholesome Fixin’s category. Additionally, Cracker Barrel increased its media spend in select markets and reallocated advertising dollars to digital media and television.

Revenues for the quarter rose 5.5 percent to $683.4 million. Comparable store restaurant sales climbed 3.3 percent, which included a 2.5 percent increase in check average, the company reported. The average menu price increase for the quarter was 2.1 percent.

Comparable retail sales advanced 6.1 percent for the quarter.

The company raised its earnings guidance for fiscal 2015. The company expects total revenue of approximately $2.8 billion, operating income margin between 8.0 percent and 8.5 percent and earnings per diluted share between $5.95 and $6.10.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2015, Cracker Barrel expects earnings per diluted share between $1.50 and $1.60.

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