Sonic Corp. (Nasdaq/NM:SONC) today said that it remains comfortable with market expectations for earnings growth in the first quarter of fiscal 2000, as expressed by the current consensus estimate of $0.31 per diluted share. In the first quarter last year, Sonic reported revenues of $66 million and net income of $7.5 million or $0.26 per diluted share, adjusted for the three-for-two stock split in November 2000. The company expects to report results for the first quarter ended November 30, 2000, during the first week of January 2001.

The company reported that estimated system-wide same-store sales during November were well below the planned range of 2% to 4% and, as a result, same-store sales will also be below the planned range for the quarter. “Sales during the latter part of the quarter were affected by unseasonably cold and wet weather in many of our markets,” said Clifford Hudson, Sonic’s chairman and chief executive officer. “The average temperature in our top 20 markets last month was 15 degrees below the average temperature of November 1999, and the amount of precipitation was more than three times the same period the year before. As weather conditions in early December have improved, sales have strengthened. We remain confident in our initiatives to drive same-store sales, which include increased media spending, new product news, and further penetration of underserved day parts, and we continue to target 2% to 4% same-store sales growth for the balance of the fiscal year.”

The company also announced that it opened 46 new drive-ins during the first three months of fiscal 2000 compared with 37 during the same period a year ago. “The accelerated pace of new drive-in openings in the first quarter keeps us firmly on track to meet our goal of opening a record 200 restaurants during the full fiscal year,” Hudson continued. “We expect to continue to benefit from this expansion and other aspects of our multi-layered growth strategy, which allows for solid earnings growth even during periods when same-store sales may be lower than our targeted range.”

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

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