Sonic Achieves Strong First Quarter Results

OKLAHOMA CITY–(hospitalitybusinessnews.com)– Sonic Corp  the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants, today announced results for the first fiscal quarter ended November 30, 2014.

Key highlights of the company’s first quarter of fiscal year 2015 included:

  • Net income per diluted share was $0.18 compared with net income per diluted share of $0.14 in the prior-year period; excluding items outlined below, net income per diluted share was $0.13 in the first fiscal quarter of 2014, resulting in a 38% increase on an adjusted basis;
  • System same-store sales increased 8.5%, consisting of an 8.5% same-store sales increase at franchise drive-ins and an increase of 7.9% at company drive-ins;
  • Company drive-in margins improved by 70 basis points versus the first quarter of fiscal year 2014;
  • 13 new drive-ins opened; and
  • The company repurchased approximately $20 million of stock and paid its first-ever quarterly dividend of $0.09 per share.

“We are extremely pleased with our performance in the first quarter and believe that our focus on innovative products, increased media effectiveness and a layered day-part promotional strategy were instrumental to our continued success,” said Cliff Hudson, Sonic Corp. CEO. “Our business momentum remains strong as improvements in core menu items combined with limited-time-offer promotions are driving our same-store sales growth. Further, we expect our technology initiatives will provide an additional layer of growth to build sales and profits over the next several years.

“Our focus continues to be on our multi-layered growth strategy, which is comprised of initiatives to drive same-store sales growth, improve margins, increase royalty revenues, new drive-in development and deployment of free cash flow1. This strategy is expected to continue to drive strong double-digit earnings per share growth for the next several years,” concluded Hudson.

Same-Store Sales

For the first fiscal quarter ended November 30, 2014, system same-store sales increased 8.5%, which was comprised of an 8.5% same-store sales increase at franchise drive-ins and an increase of 7.9% at company drive-ins.

Financial Overview

For the first fiscal quarter of 2015, the company’s net income increased to $10.1 million or $0.18 per diluted share compared with net income of $8.2 million or $0.14 per diluted share in the same period in the prior year. Excluding a tax benefit in the first fiscal quarter of 2014, outlined below, earnings per share increased 38%.

The following non-GAAP adjustment is intended to supplement the presentation of the company’s financial results in accordance with GAAP. The company believes that the presentation of this item provides useful information to investors and management regarding the underlying business trends and the performance of the company’s ongoing operations and is helpful for period-to-period and company-to-company comparisons, which management believes will assist investors in analyzing the financial results of the company and predicting future performance.

Three months ended Three months ended
November 30, 2014 November 30, 2013
Net Diluted Net Diluted Net Income Diluted EPS
Income EPS Income EPS $ Change % Change $ Change % Change
Reported – GAAP $ 10,085 $ 0.18 $ 8,208 $ 0.14 $ 1,877 23 % $ 0.04 29 %
Tax benefit from the IRS’ acceptance of a federal tax method change (484 ) (0.01 )
Adjusted – Non-GAAP $ 10,085 $ 0.18 $ 7,724 $ 0.13 $ 2,361 31 % $ 0.05 38 %

Fiscal Year 2015 Outlook

While the macroeconomic environment may impact results, the company expects its initiatives to drive earnings per share growth in fiscal 2015 at the high end or slightly above its long-term 14% to 20% earnings per share growth target, versus adjusted EPS in fiscal 2014. The outlook for fiscal 2015 anticipates the following elements:

  • Positive same-store sales in the low single digit range for the system;
  • Company drive-in same-store sales growth expected to outperform franchisees for the fiscal year as a result of the recent implementation of new digital menu boards and point-of-sale systems, with this outperformance weighted toward the latter portion of the fiscal year;
  • In addition to royalty revenue growth from same-store sales improvements and new unit development, incremental royalty revenue of approximately $8 million as a result of approximately 900 stores converting to a higher royalty rate structure at the beginning of fiscal 2015;
  • 50 to 60 new franchise drive-in openings, resulting in net unit growth for the system;
  • Drive-in-level margin improvement of between 50 to 100 basis points, depending upon the degree of same-store sales growth at company drive-ins and commodity cost inflation;
  • Selling, general and administrative expenses of $75 million to $76 million, reflecting increased investment in human resources to support the brand initiatives described above;
  • Depreciation and amortization expense of $45.5 million to $46.5 million as a result of increased capital investment in fiscal 2014;
  • Net interest expense of $25 million to $25.5 million;
  • An income tax rate of between 37.5% to 38.5%, excluding the retroactive reinstatement in December 2014 of certain tax credit programs for calendar year 2014;
  • Capital expenditures of $30 million to $40 million;
  • Free cash flow of $65 million to $75 million;
  • The planned repurchase of $105 million of stock across the fiscal year; and
  • A quarterly cash dividend of $0.09 per share resulting in an estimated payout of $19 million during the fiscal year.

 

SONIC CORP.
UNAUDITED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME
(In thousands, except per share amounts)
Three months ended
November 30,
2014 2013
Revenues:
Company Drive-In sales $ 100,138 $ 93,499
Franchise Drive-Ins:
Franchise royalties and fees 38,264 31,221
Lease revenue 1,065 886
Other 389 1,046
Total revenues 139,856 126,652
Costs and expenses:
Company Drive-Ins:
Food and packaging 28,573 26,236
Payroll and other employee benefits 35,271 33,340
Other operating expenses, exclusive of
depreciation and amortization included below 22,605 21,807
Total cost of Company Drive-In sales 86,449 81,383
Selling, general and administrative 18,788 17,005
Depreciation and amortization 11,660 10,034
Provision for impairment of long-lived assets 22
Other operating (income) expense, net 399 (129 )
Total costs and expenses 117,318 108,293
Income from operations 22,538 18,359
Interest expense 6,281 6,383
Interest income (102 ) (117 )
Net interest expense 6,179 6,266
Income before income taxes 16,359 12,093
Provision for income taxes 6,274 3,885
Net income $ 10,085 $ 8,208
Basic income per share $ 0.19 $ 0.15
Diluted income per share $ 0.18 $ 0.14
Weighted average basic shares 53,360 56,292
Weighted average diluted shares 54,827 57,897
SONIC CORP.
Unaudited Supplemental Information
Three months ended
November 30,
2014 2013
Drive-Ins in Operation
Company:
Total at beginning of period 391 396
Opened 1
Acquired from (sold to) franchisees (2 ) (7 )

Closed (net of re-openings)

(1 ) (1 )
Total at end of period 389 388
Franchise:
Total at beginning of period 3,127 3,126
Opened 12 7
Acquired from (sold to) the company 2 7
Closed (net of re-openings) (13 ) (11 )
Total at end of period 3,128 3,129
System-wide:
Total at beginning of period 3,518 3,522
Opened 13 7
Closed (net of re-openings) (14 ) (12 )
Total at end of period 3,517 3,517
Three months ended
November 30,
2014 2013
($ in thousands)
Sales Analysis
Company Drive-Ins:
Total sales $ 100,138 $ 93,499
Average drive-in sales 259 239
Change in same-store sales 7.9 % 1.9 %
Franchised Drive-Ins:
Total sales $ 908,276 $ 829,995
Average drive-in sales 294 270
Change in same-store sales 8.5 % 2.3 %
System-wide:
Change in total sales 9.2 % 2.4 %
Average drive-in sales $ 290 $ 266
Change in same-store sales 8.5 % 2.2 %

Note: Change in same-store sales based on restaurants open for a minimum of 15 months.

SONIC CORP.
Unaudited Supplemental Information
Three months ended
November 30,
2014

2013

(In thousands)
Revenues
Company Drive-In sales $ 100,138

$

93,499
Franchise Drive-Ins:
Franchise royalties 36,776 30,912
Franchise fees 1,488 309
Lease revenue 1,065 886
Other 389 1,046
Total revenues $

139,856

$

126,652
Three months ended
November 30,
2014 2013
Margin Analysis (percentage of Company Drive-In sales)
Company Drive-Ins:

Food and packaging

28.5

%

28.1

%

Payroll and employee benefits 35.2 35.6
Other operating expenses 22.6 23.3
Cost of Company Drive-In sales

86.3

%

87.0

%

November 30,

August 31,

2014

2014

(In thousands)
Selected Balance Sheet Data
Cash and cash equivalents

$

45,221

$ 35,694
Current assets 90,344 95,712
Property, equipment and capital leases, net 436,768 441,969
Total assets

$

641,617

$ 650,972
Current liabilities, including capital lease obligations and
long-term debt due within one year

$

75,679

$ 79,511
Obligations under capital leases due after one year 22,430 23,050
Long-term debt due after one year 425,079 427,527
Total liabilities 580,146 588,297
Stockholders’ equity

$

61,471

$ 62,675
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