SAN DIEGO -- For the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, 2012,Jack in the Box Inc. reported earnings from continuing operations of $17.8 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, compared with earnings from continuing operations of $23.2 million, or $0.50 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. Fiscal 2012 earnings totaled $63.0 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, compared with $81.7 million, or $1.63 per diluted share in fiscal 2011.

Jack in the Box company same-store sales increased 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, driven by a combination of traffic growth and an increase in average check. Same-store sales for the year were up 4.6 percent from the year-earlier period.

“We are extremely pleased with these results, given the difficult comparison to last year’s same-store sales and traffic growth of 5.8 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively,” said Linda Lang, chairman and chief executive officer. “Jack in the Box same-store sales growth for the quarter was almost double that of the QSR sandwich segment for the comparable period, according to The NPD Group’s SalesTrack Weekly for the 12-week time period ended Sept. 30, 2012.

“Qdoba’s same-store sales in the fourth quarter increased 0.8 percent for company restaurants and 0.4 percent system-wide, slightly below our expectations,” she continued. “Importantly, company restaurant operating margin at Qdoba improved to 15.5 percent in the fourth quarter from 13.9 percent in the year-ago quarter,” Lang said.

Food and packaging costs in the quarter were 150 basis points lower than prior year. The decrease resulted from the benefit of price increases as well as a greater proportion of Qdoba company restaurants, which combined to more than offset commodity inflation. Overall commodity costs were up less than 1 percent in the quarter.