Sonic Corp. (Nasdaq/NM: SONC)today reported results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended August 31, 2002. Continuing same-store sales growth and a strong development program, combined with growing franchising income, helped push Sonic’s fourth quarter and full-year revenues to record amounts.

These ongoing top-line gains, together with improved restaurant level margins and greater leverage of corporate-level expenses, translated into a 22% increase in diluted earnings per share for the full fiscal year and a 19% increase for the quarter.

Highlights of the company’s report included:

  • Earnings increased 22% to a record $1.13 per diluted share for the year; record diluted EPS of $0.38 for the quarter was 19% ahead of fiscal 2001
  • System-wide same-store sales increased 3.0% for the year, the sixteenth consecutive year of same-store sales growth for Sonic; system-wide same-store sales increased 0.6% for the quarter
  • System-wide sales surpassed $2 billion for the first time ever in a fiscal year period – a doubling in system sales in just five years
  • Sonic opened 182 new drive-ins during the year, including 64 in the fourth quarter, or just slightly below the record pace of 191 set in fiscal 2001
  • “For the quarter and year, Sonic’s financial and operational
    results again moved into record territory, demonstrating the
    fundamental strength of our business and the power of our
    multi-layered growth strategies,” said Clifford Hudson, Chairman and
    Chief Executive Officer. “We were successful in growing our brand
    awareness with higher media expenditures, opening new drive-ins,
    expanding our sales, and increasing our earnings and cash flow. In
    addition, we had a steady stream of new product news throughout the
    year – keeping Sonic relevant to customer interests, and we continued
    the successful rollout of our breakfast program that is now available
    across approximately one-half of the chain. These accomplishments
    resonate with our guests, who continue to respond very positively to
    new product news and remain the most loyal in the quick service
    restaurant sector.”

    Net income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 increased 20% to
    $16.1 million from $13.5 million in the same period last year. On a
    diluted per share basis, net income rose 19% to $0.38 versus $0.32
    last year. Revenues for the quarter were up 15% to $120.0 million
    compared with $104.8 million in the fourth quarter last year.

    Net income for fiscal 2002 rose 22% to $47.7 million or $1.13 per
    diluted share from $39.0 million or $0.93 per diluted share in fiscal
    2001. Revenues for the year increased 21% to $400.2 million from
    $330.6 million in fiscal 2001.

    Looking ahead to the coming year, Hudson added: “We think our
    plan to increase media spending to over $100 million, along with our
    program of new product news and day part initiatives, will continue to
    drive same-store sales growth in the range of 1% to 3%. Combine this with the impact of a strong development program, under
    which we plan to open between 190 and 200 drive-ins in fiscal 2003,
    increasing franchising income derived from our unique ascending
    royalty rate and a strong pipeline of franchisee development
    opportunities, and we believe Sonic remains soundly positioned to
    deliver 18%-20% earnings per share growth in fiscal 2003.”

    News, Sonic