BJ's Restaurants' 3Q net income up on higher sales

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- BJ's Restaurants Inc. said Thursday that its net income rose 8 percent in the third quarter on strengthening sales.

The restaurant chain reported net income of $6.84 million, or 24 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Oct. 2. That compares with net income of $6.34 million, or 22 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue increased to $175.2 million from $151.43 million.

Analysts, on average, predicted earnings of 28 cents per share on revenue of $178.3 million, according to FactSet.

BJ's, which is based in Huntington Beach, Calif., said sales at restaurants open at least a year, a key operating measure, rose 2.3 percent in the quarter.

Jerry Deitchle, chairman and CEO, said the chain launched a customer loyalty rewards program and an updated menu in September. It also has invested in a program to educate bartenders and other employees about its craft beers, which should bolster future sales.

The company opened four restaurants in the quarter, putting its total at 127. Its goal is to open up to 16 restaurants in 2012.

Shares of BJ's rose 51 cents to end at $38.28. The price has ranged from $36.46 to $54.46 in the past 52 weeks.