Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (CBRL) on Tuesday reported revenue for its fiscal third quarter that beat expectations as the restaurant operator announced a new share-repurchase program, raised its quarterly dividend by 4%, and declared a special dividend of $3 per share.
The Lebanon, Tenn.-based company said revenue for the quarter ended May 3 rose to $739.6 million from $721.4 billion in the prior-year period. Capital IQ had expected $735.2 billion. Diluted per-share earnings were $2.09, up from $2.03 the year before but below the Street’s view of $2.11.
Cracker Barrel’s board raised its quarterly dividend to $1.30 a share from $1.25, which is payable on Aug. 5 to shareholders of record on July 19. The special dividend will be payable on Aug. 2 to shareholders of record on July 19, the company said. Meanwhile, the board approved a $50-million share-buyback program, effective immediately.
The company’s shares were up nearly 1.8% in afternoon trading.
“I am pleased that we again delivered positive comparable store restaurant sales sales growth and outperformed the casual dining industry,” said Chief Executive Sandra Cochran. “Our teams continued to make progress on key initiatives, and I am encouraged by our performance, in particular with the early results of our new Signature Fried Chicken program.”
For the quarter, comparable-store sales rose 1.3%, in line with the Street’s views. The company said the result represented a 3.1% rise in the average check and a 1.8% slide in restaurant traffic. It added that the average menu price increased 1.8% in the quarter while comparable store retail sales fell 2.6% from the year before.
Cracker Barrel affirmed its full-year guidance for $3.05 billion in total revenue, below the Street’s view of $3.06 billion. It still expects diluted EPS between $8.95 and $9.10, straddling analysts’ expectation of $9.06.
The company raised its comparable store restaurant outlook for growth of about 2% for the year, up from the 1% to 2% range in guided for in February. However, it now sees comparable store retail sales to be flat to slightly negative, down from growth of 1%.