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Ruby Tuesday's Profit Meets Analysts' Expectations

Ruby Tuesday reported a 4% drop in quarterly earnings - though profits matched analysts' forecasts - as consumers scaled back spending on meals outside the home.

Net income for the fiscal second quarter was $16.7 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with $17.4 million, or 28 cents a share, a year ago. A consensus estimate compiled by Thomson Financial had put earnings at 28 cents a share.

In October, Ruby Tuesday forecast earnings of 27 cents to 29 cents a share for the quarter.

Total revenue rose 14.2% to $336.8 million, while same-store sales fell 0.2% at company-owned restaurants and rose 4% at franchised outlets.

Share-based compensation costs reduced earnings by 2 cents a share for the latest quarter, Ruby Tuesday said

Ruby Tuesday has been making improvements to its menu, service, and advertising as it seeks to set itself apart from rival bar-and-grill competitors such as Applebee's International and Brinker International's Chili's chain.

Many casual dining chains have struggled in recent months as high gasoline prices have kept consumers at home.

Ruby Tuesday is trying to jump-start sales by refocusing its menu on a line of high-end hamburgers, and said that weekend dinner sales have responded positively to advertisements for crab cakes and prime sirloin beef in November and December.

Looking ahead to its fiscal third quarter, Ruby Tuesday forecast earnings of 52 cents to 54 cents a share. The company expects a profit of $1.68 per share to $1.72 per share for the full year.

Analysts are expecting earnings of about 54 cents a share for the third quarter and $1.71 per share for the year, according to Reuters Estimates.

The operator of casual-dining restaurants will host a conference call to discuss its latest quarter at 5 p.m. New York time.