Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.’s fourth-quarter profits declined 2 percent and fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, as costs for chicken wings and restaurant labor climbed.
Still, Wild Wings has tallied bang-up sales so far during 2015’s first quarter, courtesy of the college football bowl season. “2015 has gotten off to an excellent start,” Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith told stock analysts in a conference call Thursday.
The Golden Valley-based restaurant chain — known for its wings, beer and sports motif — on Thursday posted fourth quarter profits of $20.3 million, or $1.07 per share. That was down from $20.8 million, or $1.10 per share, in the same period a year ago.
Stock analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were forecasting $1.11 per share.
Wild Wings’ revenue for the fourth quarter rose 20 percent to $408.9 million, a tad short of analysts’ expectations.
Still, same-store sales were up 5.9 percent over a year ago at Wild Wings’ corporate-owned restaurants and 5.1 percent at franchised outlets. Same-store sales are a much-watched gauge that accounts for recently opened stores.
“We’re exceptionally pleased with our restaurants’ performance in the fourth quarter and particularly with our same-store sales results, ” Smith told analysts.
The company’s same-store sales rose at an even headier clip — more than 11 percent — during the first five weeks of 2015’s first quarter.
“We saw very strong sales results during the college bowl games, both on New Year’s Day and on the day of the championship game,” Smith said. Wild Wings this year sponsored its first New Year’s Day bowl game, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, which saw Missouri beat Minnesota.
Wild Wings implemented an average menu price increase of 3 percent in November, which also has boosted the company’s sales so far in 2015.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ earnings were released after the stock market closed. In after-hours trading, Wild Wings’ shares were up 5 percent to $190, despite the earnings miss. Still, the fast start in 2015 might impress Wild Wings’ investors.
“The first quarter comps were great, and I think that’s what everybody is kind of grabbing on to,” said Mark Smith, a stock analyst at Feltl and Co. Expectations may rise for strong sales through the NCAA basketball tournament in March, he said.