El Pollo Loco Chokes Despite Solid Q2 Earnings

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LOCO) released its second-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Thursday. The crazy chicken reported that it had $0.22 in earnings per share (EPS) and $111.6 million in revenue, which compares with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.22 in EPS and revenue of $111.25 million. The same period of last year reportedly had EPS of $0.21 and $105.57 million in revenue.

During the latest quarter, systemwide comparable restaurant sales decreased 0.9%, including a 1.6% decrease for company-operated restaurants and a 0.3% decrease for franchised restaurant. This was driven by a 2.5% decrease in transactions, partially offset by a 0.9% increase in average check.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $0.68 to $0.73 with flat systemwide comparable restaurant sales growth and a restaurant contribution margin of 18.7% to 19.3%. The consensus estimates call for $0.70 in EPS and $429.77 million in revenue for the year.

Bernard Acoca, president and CEO, commented:

Results in the second quarter were in line with our expectations leading us to reaffirm our full-year guidance. While our results match our guidance, it is important to call out that we are not satisfied with them and are working hard to drive performance in the second-half of the year. During the quarter, we made progress on many facets of our Transformational Agenda, which is focused on: developing a people-first culture, differentiating the brand by accentuating and building upon our strengths, and growing the business responsibly and profitably for the long term. Within this framework, we launched our Heart-Centered Leadership program, a cornerstone of our new culture, which teaches team members how to lead with authenticity, humility, and transparency; and we made significant progress on the codification of our brand architecture, which further clarifies what we want to stand for and what makes our brand so unique. We also made strides to provide “frictionless convenience” to our customers by expanding our delivery capabilities and continuing to grow our loyalty program. We are confident that the successful execution of our Transformational Agenda will allow us to take El Pollo Loco to the next level.

Shares of El Pollo Loco closed Thursday at $11.45, with a consensus analyst price target of $12.20 and a 52-week trading range of $9.05 to $13.38. Following the announcement, the stock was down over 6% at $10.70 in early trading indications Friday.