California Pizza Kitchen, Inc. (CPKI), one of the leading casual dining restaurant operators, recently declared preliminary first-quarter 2010 results, and raised its earnings guidance.
The company now expects its first-quarter 2010 earnings to be approximately 10 cents a share, including a benefit of 3 cents from gift cards. The company had earlier forecasted earnings in the range of 5 cents to 7 cents a share. However, California Pizza remains confident of achieving its fiscal 2010 earnings outlook of 68 cents and 73 cents a share.
The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the first-quarter and fiscal 2010 are 8 cents and 74 cents a share, respectively.
The pizza restaurant chain said that revenue for the first quarter dropped 2.7% to $156.7 million from $161.1 million posted in the prior-year quarter. Comparable-store sales fell 2.7% in the quarter, reflecting a year-over-year improvement of 320 basis points, and fared better than the guidance range of negative 3% to negative 4% forecasted in February 2010.
Management also hinted that a shift in Easter holidays and bad weather conditions adversely impacted the comparable-store sales by about 1.3%. California Pizza also registered improvement in comparable-store sales across the dine-in, take-out, and delivery channels.
In order to revive its top-line growth and plug its falling comparable-store sales California Pizza Kitchen has implemented several sales-building programs. These initiatives include new menu offerings, a new wine list featuring over 30 distinctive wines, a central Call Center to serve customers for off-premise dining orders, as well as a catering program.
California Pizza Kitchen’s comps and traffic have sagged, as consumers with lower disposable incomes are dining out less or looking at cheaper alternatives, like fast food restaurant operators, such as Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM), McDonald’s Corporation (MCD) and Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (DPZ).
In a separate story, California Pizza announced that it has hired Moelis & Company, a global investment bank, for financial and strategic advice on changes in its capital structure, exploration of sale possibilities, merger or other business combinations and opportunities.
Founded in 1985, California Pizza Kitchen operates, licenses or franchises 253 locations, of which 205 are company-owned and 48 are either franchised or licensed.



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