UPDATE 2-Jack in the Box Q2 profit up; shares fall on weak comps

miércoles 14 de mayo de 2008 16:24 CEST

(Recasts; adds details, analyst's comments; updates share movement)

By Swagata Gupta

BANGALORE May 14 (Reuters) - Hamburger chain Jack in the Box Inc JBX.N posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as labor and restaurant-operating costs declined, but forecast a 2 percent fall in third-quarter same-store sales as it weathers the U.S. economic downturn, sending its shares down 12 percent.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller said investors were concerned over decelerating same-store sales amid a challenging consumer environment.

But Miller, who has an "outperform" rating on the stock, said same-store sales trends could improve in the future.

The fast-food chain, based in San Diego, saw a 0.1 percent fall in second-quarter same-store sales at its restaurants and expects 2008 sales at restaurants open at least a year to be flat.

"Like many retailers we're seeing softer sales at our restaurants in California, Phoenix and Las Vegas, which have been hardest hit by the housing downturn, high fuel prices and unemployment," Chief Executive Linda Lang said in a statement.

The company posted a profit of $26.4 million, or 44 cents a share, for the quarter ended April 13, compared with $27.2 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company, which competes with McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Cotización), Burger King Holdings Inc BKC.N and Yum! Brands Inc (YUM.N: Cotización), had about 60 million shares outstanding as of April 13, compared with about 67.9 million shares outstanding a year earlier.   Continuación...