Chili's Parent Sees Net Income Rise

Brinker says income up by 10 percent

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    Brinker International Inc., the parent company of Chili's and Maggiano's restaurants, said Wednesday that net income climbed 10 percent in the latest quarter, helped by increased customer traffic.

    Net income climbed to $23.6 million, or 28 cents per share, for the fiscal first quarter, which covers July through September. That was up from $21.4 million, or 21 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

    After stripping out one-time items, those earnings amounted to 30 cents per share, beating analysts' estimates of 27 cents.

    Brinker said it trimmed labor costs but faced higher costs for oil, beef and produce. Rising food costs have stung many restaurant operators.

    Revenue increased 2 percent to $668.4 million, though that missed analysts' estimates of $670.7 million. Brinker's shares fell about 1 percent to $22.69 in early trading, even as the overall market rose.

    Revenue was helped by an increase in traffic at both restaurant chains, as well as the company's decision to raise prices on some menu items. But the company also said that "mix shift" was unfavorable, which likely means that customers are opting for cheaper items that carry lower profit margins for the company.

    Sales at restaurants open at least a year rose 1.7 percent. That's considered an important measure of a restaurant chain's performance because it excludes restaurants that open or close during the year.