Brinker International Tops Fiscal 3Q Profit Forecasts

Brinker International Inc.'s fiscal third-quarter profit came in ahead of market expectations but slower sales trends led to disappointing revenue for the restaurant operator.

The Dallas-based company, which operates the Chili's Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy chains, said Tuesday that it earned $65.4 million, or $1.02 per share, for the most recent period ended March 25. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were 94 cents per share. That surpassed Wall Street expectations; analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research were anticipating 93 cents per share.

Brinker's revenue -- which includes restaurant sales plus franchise and other revenue -- increased 2.6 percent to $784.2 million, but fell short of market forecasts of $791 million.

A year ago the company earned $56.3 million, or 82 cents per share, on revenue of $759.3 million.

Revenue from its company-owned restaurants open at least a year increased 1.7 percent. This is considered a key indicator of financial performance as it strips away the impact of recently opened and closed sites. This measure increased 1.9 percent at Chili's and 0.1 percent at Maggiano's.

Brinker, like many sit-down restaurant chains, has been dealing with a shift in consumer tastes away from their restaurants and toward fast-casual restaurants. Traffic at Brinker's company-owned restaurants fell 0.2 percent at Chili's and 1.3 percent at Maggiano's.

Its shares fell nearly 4 percent to close at $56.84 Tuesday.

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