Retailers, consumers and prices
The parent of Chili’s Grill & Bar, On the Border and Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants raised its full-year earnings outlook while also boosting its quarterly dividend payout by 27 percent.
Brinker now expects a 2010 profit of $1.40 to $1.44 a share excluding one-time items. It had previously forecast a range of $1.15 to $1.30. Analysts were expecting $1.39, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The news continued a nice run for Brinker, which in January posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit. On Thursday, the company said it would sell its On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina business to an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital for undisclosed terms.
Analysts expect sales trends to continue to improve for U.S. restaurants from last year’s dismal levels, but gains will be tough to come by as spending levels on meals away from home are expected to remain constrained.
Check out the better-than-expected results being served up by food companies.
Chocolate maker Hershey posted a quarterly profit above analysts’ expectations, said it was on target to meet its 2010 earnings forecast and boosted its dividend. The company also said it would boost advertising to try to sell more candy, including Almond Joy and York peppermint patties.
Meanwhile, Archer Daniels Midland, one of the largest processors of corn and soybeans, saw its profit slip 2 percent, but the results still topped analysts’ forecasts, and Pepsi Bottling also topped Wall Street’s view as productivity improvements offset a dip in sales. Fruit and vegetable producer Dole Food reported a higher fourth-quarter profit and paid down debt.
That could be important since Newell on Tuesday said it was cutting its quarterly dividend to 5 cents a share from 10.5 cents. In January, it cut its dividend in half to get to that 10.5 cents.