Last night, Bloomin’ Brands reported 1Q13 EPS of $0.50, surpassing consensus of $0.44 on 1.6% blended domestic company comparable restaurant sales growth (negatively impacted by 80bps due to Leap Year).
Noise in the Quarter
The bottom-line beat was driven by a lower tax rate, which added ~$0.03 to EPS. Looking forward, management guided to 2Q13 EPS of $0.21, below the consensus estimate of $0.27. These discrepancies are largely due to noise on the tax line related non-operating items (deferred tax allowance). For the year, BLMN updated EPS guidance to at least $1.10 (from $1.06 prior) which is below consensus expectations of $1.11. While traffic (adjusted for trading day impact) was +3.2% at Outback, the FY13 guidance raise being smaller than the 1Q beat was a disappointment.
The highlight was the impressive same-restaurant sales performance at Outback. 1Q13 comps grew +2.5% versus consensus of 1.1%. In addition, there was one less week of advertising in the quarter. When adjusted for the trading day impact, comps were 3.5% at Outback. This was the 12th consecutive positive comp growth quarter for Outback, supported by continued growth at lunch and new menu initiatives. Fleming’s comps were well above the consensus 2%, and up sequentially, while Bonefish was in line with the Street as it laps very difficult 1H compares. Carrabba's continues to be a laggard.
Sales leverage, labor cost savings, and other cost cutting measures could not help mitigate food inflation as restaurant level margins were down 40 basis points.
We are staying on the sidelines for now as earnings expectations seem to have limited upside. Management has demonstrated its capability to grow same-restaurant sales but we believe that the stock is fairly valued at these levels.