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Sonic Corp. today reported record results for the first quarter of its 2003 fiscal year, which ended November 30, 2002. Key aspects of the company's quarterly report included:
* A 13 percent increase in earnings per diluted share, to $0.26, meeting the company's previously announced expectations;
* A 13 percent increase in total revenues, to $98.6 million, reflecting largely the contribution of drive-ins opened during the past year;
* A 0.2 percent decline in system-wide same-store sales for the quarter due to poor weather conditions across many of the company's markets during late October and early November; and
* The opening of 46 new Sonic Drive-Ins during the quarter.
Commenting on the report, Clifford Hudson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are pleased to report a solid increase in both revenues and earnings for the initial quarter of our new fiscal year, despite the impact of adverse weather in the latter part of the quarter and a challenging operating environment, which features ongoing economic uncertainty and increased discounting by some competitors."
Sonic's net income for the first quarter increased 11 percent to $10.6 million versus $9.6 million in the same period last year and rose 13 percent on a diluted per share basis to $0.26 from $0.23 in the year-earlier period. Revenues for the first quarter were up 13 percent to $98.6 million compared with $87.3 million in the first quarter last year.
"Despite another bout of ice and snow in early December, we have seen same-store sales strengthen over the last several weeks and return to our targeted, low-single-digit range, which is especially encouraging given the company's strong sales performance in December 2001," Hudson added. "We think this improvement reflects our ongoing efforts to remain relevant and compelling to consumers, not by selling cheap food, but by stressing superior service and distinctive, quality products. New products, like our Jumbo Popcorn Chicken, which performed extremely well during December and now ranks as one of our most successful product introductions ever, underscore the success we can achieve with this focus.
During the first quarter, Sonic opened 46 new drive-ins, including 36 franchised restaurants, compared with a total of 48 in the year-earlier period. The company remains on track to open a total of 190 to 200 new drive- ins during fiscal 2003.
With respect to its share repurchase program, Sonic purchased approximately $19.8 million of its common stock during the first quarter. The company had remaining authorization under its current program totaling about $29.6 million at the end of the quarter.