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"We are quite proud of our record of same-stores sales growth, which is unequaled in the industry,'' said Sonic's chairman and chief executive officer, Clifford Hudson. "It is a testament to the strength of our brand and the outstanding efforts of our employees and franchisees, who continually find ways to surprise and delight our customers.''
Separately, the company reported that 191 new Sonic drive-ins opened during 2001, the highest single-year count in the company's history as a public company. This new restaurant development represented a 10% increase over the previous year's mark of 174 stores opened in fiscal 2000. Considering the ongoing strength of Sonic's sales, coupled with the record pace of restaurant expansion during the last year, the company remains comfortable with the market's expectations for earnings growth for fiscal 2001, as indicated by the current analysts' consensus earnings estimate of $1.39 per diluted share. In fiscal 2000, Sonic reported revenues of $280.1 million and net income of $32.6 million or $1.17 per diluted share. The company expects to report results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended August 31, 2001, in mid-October.
Concluding, Hudson added: "As we end this fiscal year with solid momentum and healthy trends in all aspects of business -- reflecting the success of our multi-layered growth strategy -- our excitement grows for Sonic's prospects and opportunities in fiscal 2002. Our goals include ongoing same-store sales growth in the 2% to 4% range for the year and another record year for drive-in development in 2002, with the opening of between 190 and 200 new restaurants. These factors, coupled with the ongoing benefit of our ascending franchise royalty rate, position us well to deliver 18% to 20% higher earnings per share in the coming year and a return on equity of more than 20%.''
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. There are certain important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by the statements made herein. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ from predicted or expected results are: delays in opening new stores because of weather, strikes, local permitting or other reasons; increased competition; cost increases or shortages in raw food products; and the possibility of unforeseen events affecting the industry generally. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly release revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unforeseen events, except as required to be reported under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sonic Corp. franchises and operates the largest chain of drive-in restaurants in the United States. For more information about the company, visit Sonic's website at sonicdrivein.com.