May 14, 2008 / 11:52 AM / 10 years ago

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

(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), Burger King Holdings Inc (BKC.N) and Yum! Brands Inc (YUM.N), had about 60 million shares outstanding as of April 13, compared with about 67.9 million shares outstanding a year earlier.

Total revenue for the second quarter rose 5 percent to $693.5 million.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 43 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $684.2 million for the second quarter.

Jack in the Box opened six new company and franchised restaurants in the second quarter and introduced two new products, including the BBQ Bacon Sirloin Burger.

The company, whose products range from burgers and fries to salads, tacos, and breakfast items, affirmed its full-year earnings outlook of $1.98 to $2.08 a share.

For 2008, analysts on average expect the company to earn $2.05 a share, excluding exceptional items, according to Reuters Estimates.

Shares of the company fell to a low of $24.31, before paring some losses to trade down $3.27 at $24.50 Wednesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange. (Editing by Pratish Narayanan)

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