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Meritage Hospitality Reports Preliminary 2014 Fiscal Results; 2015 Outlook: Robust Sales & Earnings Growth

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Feb. 11, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. (OTCQX:MHGU), one of the nation's premier restaurant operators, today reported preliminary financial results for the 2014 fiscal year ended December 28, 2014.

2014 Full-Year Highlights

  • Sales increased 16.3% to $160.2 million (a new sales record), compared to $137.8 million last year.
  • Net Income was $2.7 million compared to $3.1 million last year.
  • Consolidated EBITDA (a non-GAAP measure) increased 4.7% to $8.8 million, compared to $8.4 million last year.
  • The Company developed or acquired 23 additional restaurants during the year, finishing with 142 restaurants in operation. During January of 2015, the Company acquired an additional 9 restaurants for a total of 151 in restaurants in operation today.
  • The Company declared its 49th consecutive quarterly dividend on its Series B Cumulative Convertible Preferred stock and increased its Common Share special dividends by 50% during the year.

Chief Executive Officer, Robert Schermer, Jr., stated, "During 2014 we remained intently focused on growing our Wendy's footprint by building and acquiring existing restaurants within the Wendy's franchise system. We incurred extraordinary one-time expenses associated with restaurant acquisitions, including closing restaurants and delaying the re-openings on a number of restaurants while we brought them up to the Meritage operating standards.

"Importantly, our management team delivered on the Company's original five year goal of "150 restaurants by 2015" resulting in exponential sales and earnings growth over this period. Our shareholders have been rewarded with triple digit appreciation and steadily increasing special dividends."

"In fiscal 2015 we are anticipating a robust year of sales and earnings growth, driven in large part by 32 newly built or recently acquired restaurants, which will be in full operation for the balance of the year. We are confident that increasing sales, cash flow and earnings will enable the Company to fund organic growth initiatives and provide the opportunity for a significant increase in cash dividends to common shareholders," added Schermer.

Fourth Quarter 2014 Highlights

  • Sales increased 24.8% to $43.9 million compared to $35.1 million prior year.
  • Net Income was $501,000 compared to $617,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014.
  • Consolidated EBITDA (a non-GAAP measure) increased 34.8% to $2.0 million compared to $1.5 million in the same period last year.
  • During the fourth quarter we opened two newly constructed Wendy's restaurants in Florida.

2015 Financial Outlook: Robust Growth

The Company's 2015 operating targets include the following year-over-year financial expectations:

  • Sales growth of 25% to 30%
  • Net Income growth of 100% to 110%
  • EBITDA growth (a non-GAAP measure) of 55% to 65%

Our 2015 financial targets assume the successful integration of newly acquired Wendy's restaurants, new construction and re-imaging of Wendy's restaurants, increased catering from the opening of a new convention center attached to our Freighters Restaurant on the St. Clair River in Port Huron, Michigan and the late fall opening of our new Wheelhouse Restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids, MI.

We remain intently focused on enhancing the Wendy's and casual restaurant unit-level economic models to deliver high returns on invested capital. Our strategy is to invest in restaurant opportunities where we can add value by leveraging our web-based operating platform for efficiencies, increase the long-term enterprise value of the Company and expand cash distributions to shareholders.

About Meritage

Meritage is one of the nation's premier restaurant operators, currently operating 151 quick service and casual dining restaurants. The Company specializes in the acquisition, development and operation of quick service and casual dining restaurant properties. The Company is headquartered in Grand Rapids and employs a growing workforce of approximately 5,200. The Company seeks new restaurant acquisition and development opportunities to capitalize on its web-based operating platform and substantial restaurant operating expertise. The Company's public filings can be viewed at www.otcqx.com, under the stock symbol MHGU, or the Company's website www.meritagehospitality.com.

SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT

Certain information in this news release, particularly information regarding future economic performance and finances, and plans, expectations and objectives of management, constitutes forward-looking statements. Factors set forth in our Safe Harbor Statement, in addition to other possible factors not listed, could affect the Company's actual results and cause such results to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements. Please review the Company's Safe Harbor Statement at www.meritagehospitality.com.

CONTACT: Robert E. Schermer, Jr., CEO Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. 616-776-2600Source:Meritage Hospitality Group Inc.