Orange County Business Journal

BJ’s Shares Fall on Same-Store Decline

Kari Hamanaka Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shares of Huntington Beach-based restaurant operator BJ’s Restaurants Inc. fell on signs of a slowdown in the company’s business so far this year.

Same-store sales for the first seven weeks of the year are running negative, Chief Financial Officer Greg Levin told analysts during the company’s earnings call held after the market closed on Tuesday.

BJ’s, which owns and operates a chain of 130 restaurants, saw its shares down about 8% to a market value of $840.7 million in afternoon trading Wednesday.

Levin went on to compare the current quarter to 2008, when the company saw business soften during the middle of the week, while sales during weekends and special events continued to do well.

Levin said BJ’s plans to increase its spending on marketing and promotions during the current quarter in a bid to offset the trend.

"Based on all indications, we expect 2013 to be another challenging year in the casual dining industry," said Chief Executive Greg Trojan in a statement. "Accordingly, we have several sales building initiatives planned for this year and will continue to prudently manage the costs within our business."

The statement came after the company reported its results for the fourth-quarter and full-year ended Jan. 1.

The chain reported an adjusted fourth quarter profit of $7.6 million, in-line with Wall Street analyst expectations.

The company saw fourth-quarter sales rise 8% from a year earlier to $184.8 million, slightly above consensus estimates.

BJ’s saw sales for the full year rise 14% to $708.3 million.

The company saw an adjusted profit for the year of $32.3 million, up from $31.6 million a year earlier.

Same-store sales for the year increased 3.2%.

BJ’s did not provide guidance for the current quarter.

Analysts expect to see a profit of $9.9 million and revenue of $194.8 million.