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Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK)  reported earnings from continuing operations of $33.9 million, or $0.94 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended January 17, 2016, compared with $37.1 million, or $0.94 per diluted share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

Operating earnings per share, a non-GAAP measure which the company defines as diluted earnings per share from continuing operations on a GAAP basis excluding restructuring charges and gains or losses from refranchising, were $0.93 in the first quarter of fiscal 2016 compared with $0.93 in the prior year quarter.

A reconciliation of non-GAAP measurements to GAAP results is provided below, with additional information included in the attachment to this release. Figures may not add due to rounding.

    Sixteen Weeks Ended
    January 17,   January 18,
    2016   2015

Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations – GAAP

  $ 0.94     $ 0.94  
Gains from refranchising   (0.01 )   (0.01 )
Operating earnings per share – Non-GAAP   $ 0.93     $ 0.93

Lenny Comma, chairman and chief executive officer, said, “Our first quarter results were disappointing as operating earnings per share were below our expectations. At the Jack in the Box brand, margin expansion offset sales that were below our plan. Solid sales and traffic growth at Qdoba were hampered by lower than expected margins and some non-repetitive costs.

“Jack in the Box sales in the last part of the quarter were lower than we anticipated as several competitors began promoting aggressive value offers. We also experienced weakness at breakfast and lunch throughout the quarter, which we attribute primarily to our decision to shift the timing of some of our promotional activity around breakfast to the second quarter as compared to the first quarter of last year. In addition, we believe a competitor’s messaging around its launch of all-day breakfast had some impact on our results, particularly in the 10:30 a.m. to noon period.

“In late January, we introduced multiple upgrades to the core menu at our Jack in the Box restaurants system-wide. We are confident in our ability to drive profitable sales growth and brand loyalty over the long-term by balancing our messages to include both higher-quality, more craveable food along with differentiated value offerings.

“Qdoba sales were strong on top of double-digit comparisons, driven by the introduction of Knockout Tacos®which generated nice traffic growth. Qdoba’s profitability for the quarter was impacted by a number of items, including advertising costs which were $0.03 per share higher than last year due to timing, higher pre-opening costs of about $0.02 per share related to a greater number of openings, and costs of about $0.02 per share for new uniforms and a brand-wide conference.

“In addition to these items, mark-to-market adjustments hurt our consolidated results by approximately $0.01per share.

“As we have discussed previously, we have been evaluating various levers to enhance shareholder value. At our May investor meeting, we will discuss our long-term strategies to grow sales and expand both brands. In the meantime, we have made a couple of key decisions, including plans to increase Jack in the Box franchise ownership to at least 90 percent and reduce G&A to approximately 3 percent of consolidated system-wide sales. We are targeting completion of these initiatives over the next two years. We will share more specifics at the meeting, including the potential implications of these changes to our capital structure.”

Increases in same-store sales:

      Sixteen Weeks Ended
          January 17,   January 18,
          2016   2015
Jack in the Box:            
  Company       0.5 %   3.9 %
  Franchise       1.8 %   4.6 %
  System       1.4 %   4.4 %
Qdoba:            
  Company       1.5 %   12.9 %
  Franchise       2.1 %   15.1 %
  System       1.8 %   14.0 %
                   

Jack in the Box system same-store sales increased 1.4 percent for the quarter. Company same-store sales increased 0.5 percent, with average check up 3.4 percent.

Jack in the Box system same-store sales growth for the quarter lagged the QSR sandwich segment by 2.4 percentage points for the comparable period, according to The NPD Group’s SalesTrack® Weekly for the 16-week time period ended January 17, 2016. Included in this segment are 16 of the top QSR sandwich and burger chains in the country.

Qdoba same-store sales increased 1.8 percent system-wide and 1.5 percent for company restaurants in the first quarter. Company same-store sales reflected a 1.3 percent increase in transactions as well as another quarter of double-digit growth in catering sales.

Consolidated restaurant operating margin increased by 20 basis points to 19.5 percent of sales in the first quarter of 2016, compared with 19.3 percent of sales in the year-ago quarter. Restaurant operating margin forJack in the Box company restaurants increased 150 basis points to 20.9 percent of sales. The improvement was due primarily to lower food and packaging costs and the benefit of refranchising. The decrease in food and packaging costs as a percentage of sales resulted from the benefit of favorable product mix changes and lower discounting, commodity deflation of approximately 1.7 percent in the quarter, and menu price increases. Restaurant operating margin for Qdoba company restaurants decreased 270 basis points to 16.6 percent of sales, as higher labor staffing, new uniforms and costs associated with a greater number of new restaurant openings more than offset the sales growth and benefits from commodity deflation of approximately 5.4 percent in the quarter.

Franchise margin as a percentage of total franchise revenues improved to 51.5 percent in the first quarter from 51.0 percent in the prior year quarter. The improvement was due primarily to higher royalty revenue for both brands and higher rental income from Jack in the Box franchised restaurants resulting from increases in franchise average unit volumes.

SG&A expense for the first quarter increased by $2.8 million and was 14.0 percent of revenues as compared to 13.5 percent in the prior year quarter. The increase reflects a $2.1 million increase in advertising costs at Qdoba due to the timing of promotional activities, higher pre-opening costs of $1.1 million resulting from a greater number of Qdoba openings and restaurants under construction in the first quarter, and $0.8 millionrelated to a Qdoba brand conference for all company and franchise operators. Mark-to-market adjustments on investments supporting the company’s non-qualified retirement plans negatively impacted SG&A by $1.0 million in the first quarter of 2016 as compared to a negative impact of $0.2 million in the first quarter of 2015, resulting in a year-over-year increase in SG&A of $0.8 million. These increases were partially offset by a $1.6 million decrease in pension expense and a $1.2 million decrease in incentive compensation.

Interest expense, net, increased by $3.0 million in the first quarter due to increased leverage and a higher effective interest rate for 2016.

The tax rate for the first quarter of 2016 was 37.6 percent versus 36.1 percent for the first quarter of 2015. The higher tax rate in the first quarter of 2016 was due primarily to an increase in state tax rates, and unfavorable adjustments on investments supporting the company’s non qualified retirement plans.

Capital Allocation

The company repurchased approximately 1,274,000 shares of its common stock in the first quarter of 2016 at an average price of $78.48 per share for an aggregate cost of $100.0 million. This leaves $100.0 millionremaining under a stock-buyback program authorized by the company’s Board of Directors in September 2015that expires in November 2017.

“In addition, last week our Board of Directors authorized an additional $100 million stock buyback program that also expires in November 2017. The additional authorization underscores the confidence both the management team and our Board of Directors have in our business model and long-term growth plans,” Comma said.

The company also announced today that on February 12, 2016, its Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.30 per share on the company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on March 14, 2016, to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 1, 2016.

Guidance

The following guidance and underlying assumptions reflect the company’s current expectations for the second quarter ending April 10, 2016, and fiscal year ending October 2, 2016. Fiscal 2016 is a 53-week year, with 16 weeks in the first quarter, 12 weeks in each of the second and third quarters, and 13 weeks in the fourth quarter.

Second quarter fiscal year 2016 guidance

  • Same-store sales ranging from approximately down 3.0 percent to flat at Jack in the Box company restaurants versus a 7.4 percent increase in the year-ago quarter. The low end of the sales guidance for the second quarter reflects trends through the first four weeks as compared to the same period of the prior year when sales growth exceeded 10 percent.
  • Same-store sales ranging from approximately flat to up 3.0 percent at Qdoba company restaurants versus a 7.0 percent increase in the year-ago quarter. Excluding the first week of the current quarter, which was negatively impacted by weather, sales trends are tracking at the low end of the guidance range as compared to the first four weeks of the prior year when sales growth exceeded 14 percent.

Fiscal year 2016 guidance

  • Same-store sales increase of approximately 1.0 to 2.0 percent at Jack in the Box company restaurants.
  • Same-store sales increase of approximately 2.0 to 3.0 percent at Qdoba company restaurants.
  • Commodity deflation of approximately 2 percent for Jack in the Box and approximately 4 percent at Qdoba.
  • Restaurant operating margin of approximately 20.0 to 20.5 percent.
  • SG&A as a percentage of revenue of approximately 13.0 to 13.5 percent as compared to 14.4 percent in fiscal 2015.
  • Impairment and other charges as a percentage of revenue of approximately 80 basis points.
  • Approximately 20 new Jack in the Box restaurants opening system-wide, the majority of which will be franchise locations.
  • Approximately 50 to 60 new Qdoba restaurants, of which approximately half are expected to be company locations.
  • Capital expenditures of $100 million to $120 million.
  • Tax rate of approximately 38 percent.
  • Operating earnings per share, which the company defines as diluted earnings per share from continuing operations on a GAAP basis excluding restructuring charges and gains or losses from refranchising, ranging from $3.50 to $3.63 in fiscal 2016 as compared to operating earnings per share of $3.00 in fiscal 2015. The estimated benefit of the 53rd week in fiscal 2016 is approximately $0.08 per diluted share. (Original Source)

Shares of Jack In The Box are falling close to 19% in after-hours trading. JACK has a 1-year high of $99.99 and a 1-year low of $63.94. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $74.35 and its 200-day moving average is $77.20.

On the ratings front, JACK has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on November 18, Barclays analyst Jeffrey Bernstein maintained a Hold rating on JACK, with a price target of $83, which represents a potential upside of 7.9% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on the same day, Oppenheimer’s Brian Bittner reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $95.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Jeffrey Bernstein and Brian Bittner have a total average return of 7.8% and 17.0% respectively. Bernstein has a success rate of 70.4% and is ranked #202 out of 3610 analysts, while Bittner has a success rate of 69.6% and is ranked #3.

Jack In The Box Inc owns, operates and franchises quick-service restaurants and Qdoba Mexican Grill fast-casual restaurants.