Chili's parent sees 1Q profit rise 18 pct

NEW YORK -- The parent company of Chili's and Maggiano's restaurants reported an 18 percent increase in first-quarter profit, as chain benefited from higher menu prices.

However, earnings for Dallas-based Brinker International Inc. missed expectations, sending its shares down $2.81, more than 8 percent, to $30.63 Wednesday morning.

Brinker, which also has a stake in Romano's Macaroni Grill, said Wednesday that it earned $27.9 million, or 36 cents per share for the three months ended Sept. 26. That compares with $23.6 million, or 26 cents per share, a year ago.

Total revenue rose 2.2 percent to $683.5 million, from $668.4 million a year ago. Excluding franchise revenue, the figure rose 2.5 percent to $663.7 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of 38 cents per share on revenue of $682.3 million.

Brinker reported gains in a key sales measure at both Chili's and Maggiano's. Revenue from its Chili's restaurants open at least a year increased 2.8 percent for the quarter. Traffic was up 0.4 percent. The same revenue measure increased 0.9 percent at Maggiano's, which saw a 2.5 percent traffic decline. Prices rose 1.4 percent at Chili's and 2.6 percent at Maggiano's.

Revenu at restaurants open at least a year is a key indicator of a restaurant chain's operating performance as it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.