Cracker Barrel shares up after special dividend

by Ryan McCarthy
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LEBANON, Tenn. – Cracker Barrel Old Country Store reported gains in revenue and profits for its fiscal third quarter despite reductions in customer traffic that partially offset an increase in the average customer check.

The Tennessee-based company said it would issue a one-time dividend of $3.25 a share and increase its regular quarterly dividend to $1.15 a share, up from $1.10. Shares in the company climbed 7.9 percent to $163.44 as of 3:10 p.m. EDT on the Nasdaq.

“We are encouraged by our May sales results, which we believe have been driven in part by customer enthusiasm around our summer menu offerings,” Cracker Barrel President and CEO Sandra B. Cochran said. “During the third quarter, we had positive comparable store restaurant and retail sales growth, and continued to outperform the casual dining industry.”

Cochran  that cost-saving initiatives and commodity cost reduction lifted operating income by almost 20 percent.

Despite a 0.6 percent fall in restaurant traffic, Cracker Barrel showed an increase in same-store sales of 2.3 percent, while same-store retail sales were up 2.2 percent. Menu prices also increased in the third quarter by 2.9 percent. 

The company said in its fiscal 2016 guidance that it would raise adjusted per-share earnings to $7.55 from $7.45. For the fourth quarter guidance included  diluted earnings per share between $2.05 and $2.15.

Net income for the third quarter ended April 29 was  $ 49.17 million, or $ 2.04 per diluted share, up from $35.3 million, or $1.47 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2015.

Revenues for the quarter were $700.1 million, an increase of 2.4 percent from the third quarter of the prior year.

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