Sonic Corp. fiscal 4Q net income rises 18 percent

NEW YORK -- Sonic Corp. said Tuesday that its net income rose 18 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter despite a slight drop in revenue, partly because of lower sales at company drive-in restaurants.

The Oklahoma City company's results beat Wall Street expectations and its shares rose nearly 3 percent in after-hours trading.

Sonic reported net income of $14.5 million, or 25 cents per share, in the three-month period that ended Aug. 31. That compares with $12.3 million, or 20 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue fell to $150.9 million from $151.2 million.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast earnings of 24 cents a share on revenue of $149.3 million.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.3 percent. Sonic said overall sales at company drive-ins fell 2.6 percent and sales at franchise drive-ins increased 1.5 percent. Franchisee royalties and fees both rose.

Sonic said 18 drive-ins were opened during the quarter, including 17 by franchisees. In the year-ago quarter, 17 drive-ins were opened, 14 by franchisees.

For the fiscal year, Sonic reported net income of $36.1 million, or 60 cents per share. Its 2011 earnings were $19.2 million, or 31 cents per share. Revenue fell to $543.7 million from $546 million.

For fiscal 2013 Sonic expects same-store sales growth in the low single-digit range and a slight increase in franchise drive-in openings. The company said that the sluggish U.S. economy may create some volatility in sales.

Sonic has more than 3,500 drive-ins across the country.

The company released its results after the market closed. Its shares rose 7 cents to end at $9.70 in the regular session. They rose an additional 28 cents in after-hours trading. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $6.49 and $10.94 per share.