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Shake Shack beats on earnings, forecasts massive expansion in 2018

  • Shake Shack reported fourth-quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday.
  • Same-store sales at the burger chain rose 0.8 percent in the quarter, the company said.
  • Shake Shack expects to open between 32 and 35 new restaurants in the U.S. in 2018, the largest number of openings in one year in the company's history.

Shares of Shake Shack whipsawed after the closing bell on Thursday after the company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, but provided cautious sales guidance.

The stock was up as much as 5.3 percent before it turned negative, slipping 4 percent.

The sudden stock downturn was likely the result of the company providing weaker revenue and same-store sales forecasts than analysts had expected.

The company said that it expects same-store sales to be flat in 2018 due to a 1.5 to 2 percent menu price hike it made in December 2017. It also forecast total revenue for the year to be between $444 million and $448 million. Analysts had modeled revenue of $461.09 million, according to Thomson Reuters consensus.

"We're remaining cautious," CEO Randy Garutti said during an earnings call Thursday. "It's been a volatile time for us. We've got our largest class of restaurants coming yet. And, you know, as the industry continues to evolve, we're going to remain cautious in our outlook. And for us, ... that looks like a flat guidance at this time, and we're putting a lot of strategies in place to do our best to beat that."

Garutti said Shake Shack expects to open between 32 and 35 new restaurants in the U.S. in 2018, the largest number of openings in one year in the company's history.

"By the end of 2020, we plan to have more than doubled our 2017 systemwide Shack count and increase our revenue to over $700 million," he said.

Shake Shack plans to have at least 200 locations in the U.S. and 120 globally licensed locations by 2020.

The company reported a loss of $14.4 million, or 55 cents a share, compared with net income of $3.9 million, or 15 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding charges from the U.S. tax overhaul, the company earned 10 cents a share, beating analysts' average estimate of 6 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue rose 31.2 percent in the quarter to $96.1 million, beating Wall Street estimates of 92.9 million.

"We delivered another year of robust global growth, opening 26 new company-operated domestic Shacks and 19 net licensed Shacks, representing a nearly 40 percent increase on our base," Garutti said in a statement Thursday. "2017 marked a milestone year of digital innovation for Shake Shack, with the launch of the Shack app, self-serve kiosks at select locations and several integrated delivery pilots designed to further enhance the guest digital experience."

Same-store sales at the burger chain rose 0.8 percent in the quarter, the company said. Analysts had expected same-store sales to be down 1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company said that on average, its company-operated stores earned $85,000 a week during the fourth quarter, down 5.6 percent from the $90,000 a week it earned in the same period a year ago.