LEBANON, Tenn. – Shares of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. slipped 6 percent after the company’s fourth quarter earnings and sales lagged analysts’ estimates.

Comparable restaurant sales for the fourth quarter eased 0.4 percent, the company reported. Comparable restaurant traffic dropped 3.5 percent but was partially offset by a 3.1 percent increase in average check. Comparable retail sales climbed 1.3 percent.

Sandra Cochran, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store“The softer sales trend we saw in May persisted throughout the quarter, leading to fourth quarter results that fell below expectations,” said Cracker Barrel President and CEO Sandra B. Cochran. “Our traffic was challenged, particularly with lighter users and during the dinner daypart, some of which was attributable to our menu and marketing promotion not delivering the anticipated topline traffic and sales.

“While our results did not meet our expectations, I am confident that our initiatives and plans for fiscal 2019 will drive improved performance.”

For the fourth quarter ended Aug. 3, 2018, the company reported total revenue of $810,893,000, up 9 percent from $743,226,000 reported in the fourth quarter of 2017. Net income for the period was $61,354,000, or $2.55 per diluted share, compared with $53,893,000, or $2.23 per diluted share, reported in the year-ago period.

Cracker Barrel reported total revenue of $3.0 billion for fiscal 2018, up 3.6 percent over 2017 results. Adjusted for the 53rd week, total revenue increased by 1.6 percent.

Comparable store restaurant sales for the year increased 0.6 percent which included a 2.5 percent increase in average check that was partially offset by a 1.9 percent decrease in store traffic. Comparable store retail sales eased 0.1 percent for the fiscal year.

Full-year operating income was $293.6 million, or 9.7 percent of total revenue, compared to $313.2 million, or 10.7 percent of total revenue in 2017, the company reported. Adjusted for the 53rd week, operating income was $282.4 million, or 9.5 percent of total revenue.

In its guidance for fiscal 2019, Cracker Barrel expects total revenue of approximately $3.04 billion which reflects the expected opening of eight new stores coupled with projected increases in comparable store restaurant sales growth in the range of flat to 1 percent. Comparable store retail sales growth is forecast in the range of flat to 1 percent.

Additionally, Cracker Barrel projects food commodity inflation of approximately 2 percent for fiscal 2019. Operating income margin is projected to be approximately 9.3 percent as a percent of total revenue.