Sonic swings to profit in 3Q

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Sonic Corp., the 3,550-unit drive-in chain, on Tuesday reported a swing to profit in the third quarter and increases in same-store sales.

Sonic reported net income of $14.4 million, or 24 cents a share, in the quarter, which ended May, 31, compared to a net loss of $4.7 million, or eight cents a share, for the same quarter of last year.

The prior-year quarter included $17.8 million in after-tax costs associated with refinancing of debt, which, if excluded, would have resulted in net income share of 21 cents, the company said.

Revenue slipped to $149.4 million in the quarter from $152.1 million in the prior-year period.

Systemwide same-store sales increased 2.8 percent in the third quarter, rising 3.7 percent at company-owned drive-ins and 2.7 percent at franchised units.

“Strong third-quarter sales were driven by a layered daypart promotional strategy anchored by an integrated creative campaign that showcased multiple existing and new products appealing across all dayparts,” noted Clifford Hudson, Sonic’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

In other guidance, Sonic said it expects same-store sales to be positive “in the low single digits.”

The company has extended those daypart promotions with the announcement earlier this week of half-price shakes after 8 p.m. and other new items coming in July.

Sonic added seven new franchise drive-ins in the third quarter of fiscal 2012 versus 12 new franchise drive-in openings during the third quarter of fiscal 2011. The company plans to open 15 to 20 new franchise units in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma City-based Sonic trimmed its number of company-owned drive-ins to 409 at the end of the third quarter from 445 in the prior-year period. The number of franchised units has grown to 3,141 from 3,114 at the end of last year’s quarter.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless