DALLAS – Brinker International Inc. announced for the fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 28, net income was $23.6 million, up from $21.4 million in the same quarter one year earlier. Total revenues increased 2.1 percent to $668.4 million. Earnings per diluted share, before special items, increased to $0.30 compared to $0.21 for the first quarter of fiscal 2011.

Restaurant operating margin improved 80 basis points to 15.8 percent compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2011.

"As evidenced in Brinker's first-quarter results, guests are responding positively to our core value strategies, as we achieved our third consecutive quarter of positive sales and traffic growth,” said Doug Brooks, president and chief executive officer. “This upward trend, coupled with our continued margin improvements, resulted in profitable growth for Brinker and is keeping us on track to double EPS by 2015."

Chili’s first quarter revenues of $566.9 million were up 1.6 percent increase from $557.8 million in the prior year period driven by increased guest traffic. Chili's operating margin improved compared to the prior year primarily due to successful labor savings initiatives related to food preparation procedures. Restaurant expenses were also positively impacted by sales leverage on fixed costs related to higher revenue.

Cost of sales was negatively impacted by unfavorable pricing on oils, beef and produce, partially offset by favorable pricing on poultry.

Maggiano’s first quarter revenues of $85.3 million increased 4.4 percent primarily driven by improved traffic. Restaurant operating margin improved compared to prior year primarily due to favorable restaurant labor and restaurant expenses.

Brinker International Inc. is one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies. Brinker currently owns, operates or franchises 1,578 restaurants under the names Chili's Grill & Bar (1,533 restaurants) and Maggiano's Little Italy (45 restaurants). Brinker also holds a minority investment in Romano's Macaroni Grill.