Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. posted a shaky third quarter Wednesday, with its profits down 12 percent, well below investors' expectations.
With sales growth looking tepid for the fourth quarter, Buffalo Wild Wings also lowered its earnings growth goal for the year.
Investors reacted by sending its stock down nearly 15 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday. Buffalo Wild Wings' earnings were released after the stock market closed.
The Golden Valley-based restaurant chain said it earned $19.2 million, or $1 per share, for the quarter that ended Sept. 27. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast a profit of $1.29 a share. The profit also was down from the $21.8 million, or $1.14 a share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Revenue was $455 million, up 22 percent from a year earlier but short of the $465 million forecast by analysts.
"As you look at the [restaurant] market as a whole, there has been a softening in same-store sales," James Schmidt, Buffalo Wild Wings' chief operating officer, told stock analysts in a conference call Wednesday. "While we outperform the market, we move with the market."
Buffalo Wild Wings — known for its chicken wings, beer and sports motif — has been one of the country's fastest-growing restaurant concepts in recent years, with more than 1,100 outlets.
During the third quarter, the company's same-store sales, an important gauge that takes into account newly opened restaurants, also didn't meet Wall Street's expectations. For company-owned stores, same-store sales were up 3.9 percent; for franchised restaurants, 1.2 percent.
The first month of the fourth quarter didn't seem so hot, either.
Buffalo Wild Wings' same-store sales were up 2.8 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, for corporate and franchised restaurants. Postseason baseball scheduling was partly at play. Last year, baseball's playoffs and World Series fell within the fourth quarter's first four weeks, but only the playoffs did this year, Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith told stock analysts in a conference call.
The company Wednesday reduced its 2016 earnings growth goal, saying it's now anticipating single-digit earnings growth for the year. That goal had been 13 percent.
"Top line revenue is the primary contributor to our reduced guidance for 2015," Mary Twinem, the chain's chief financial officer, told analysts.
Buffalo Wild Wings also is facing increasing cost pressures.
Chicken wing expenses are a "little higher than expected," Twinem said. Traditional wings were $1.79 per pound on average during the third quarter, up 19 percent over a year ago.
Wild Wings' labor costs as a percentage of sales rose over a year ago. Like other restaurant companies, Buffalo Wild Wings is facing tight labor markets, which put upward pressure on wages. Health insurance and workers' compensation expenses also have been primary drivers of Wild Wings' higher labor costs.
Wild Wings' overall expenses also rose because of costs associated with its $160 million purchase in the third quarter of 41 franchisee-owned Buffalo Wild Wings. Those restaurants are in Texas, New Mexico and Hawaii.