El Pollo Loco Q2 Earnings Fall Short

When El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LOCO) released its second-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Thursday, the crazy chicken said that it had $0.21 in earnings per share (EPS) and $105.6 million in revenue. Consensus estimates had called for $0.20 in EPS and revenue of $106 million.

Comparable company-operated restaurant sales in the second quarter increased 2.4%, driven by a 0.5% increase in transactions and a 1.9% increase in average check.

Restaurant contribution was $21.6 million or 21.8% of company-operated restaurant revenue, compared to $20.0 million, or 22.0% of company-operated restaurant revenue in the second quarter of last year. The slight decrease in restaurant contribution margin was primarily the result of higher labor costs, due to increased minimum wage and higher occupancy and other operating expenses associated with new restaurants opened in 2016 and 2017.

In terms of the outlook for the full fiscal year, El Pollo Loco expects to see EPS in the range of $0.64 to $0.67, systemwide comparable restaurant sales growth of 1.0% to 2.0%, and adjusted EBITDA in the range of $66.5 million to $68.5 million. The consensus estimates are $0.67 in EPS and $406.59 million in revenue for the full year.

Steve Sather, president and CEO of El Pollo Loco, commented:

During the second quarter we achieved solid results, including system-wide comparable store sales growth of 2.9% and a return to positive transaction growth.  Our core business continues to perform well, driven by our strategy to highlight our authentic brand, our differentiated offerings, and our QSR+ positioning. Additionally we made progress against new technology initiatives focused on driving convenience and loyalty, rolling out delivery and launching our all-new Loco Rewards loyalty program.

Shares of El Pollo Loco were trading down over 6% at $12.10 on Friday, with a 52-week range of $10.08 to $14.85 and a consensus analyst price target of $15.20.