MINNEAPOLIS – A 40 percent increase in company-owned restaurant sales boosted Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc.’s earnings for the first quarter ended March 25.

Company-owned restaurant sales grew to $232.3 million, the company said. Same-store sales increased 9.2 percent at company-owned restaurants and 7.3 percent at franchises.

Net earnings rose 22.8 percent to $18.2 million, compared to $14.9 million in the comparable year-ago period, and earnings per diluted share advanced to $.98 from $.81, an increase of 21 percent. Total revenues were 251.1 million, an increase of 37.9 percent over the year-ago period.

"We are pleased with our solid start in 2012, with first quarter same-store sales increases of 9.2 percent at company-owned restaurants and 7.3 percent at franchised locations,” said Sally Smith, president and chief executive officer. “The combination of strong same-store sales, new restaurant performance, and sales from franchised restaurants acquired in 2011 fueled our substantial revenue increase of 37.9 percent.

“We continued to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support our expansion in North America and internationally,” Smith added. “Through leveraging expenses at the restaurant level, we limited the impact of higher wing costs. For the first quarter, we achieved net earnings growth of over 22 percent, and provided value to our shareholders with earnings per diluted share of $0.98."

Buffalo Wild Wings’ forecast for the full year 2012 includes an increase in advertising with national radio to cover the company’s markets and a new television spot. Smith said the company should reach its full-year earnings growth goal of 20 percent on solid first quarter results, ongoing same-store sales strength, the benefit of a 53rd week and expense leveraging.

"We continue to implement strategies for long-term growth,” Smith said. “Our plans include a development pace to achieve 1,500 locations in North America in the next five to seven years. We're also actively pursuing international franchising opportunities and investigating potential concepts for acquisition that would provide additional growth.

“We are innovating around the critical aspects of the Buffalo Wild Wings brand, including our facilities, food and beverage, sports and entertainment, technology, and our service strategy,” she added. “We believe that with a dedicated focus on our guest experience and unit-level profitability, we will prudently expand our presence across the globe and generate industry-leading net earnings growth well into the future.”