Business

Almost a year after IPO, Bojangles’ reports better-than-expected earnings

Clifton Rutledge, the former CEO of Bojangles', will receive $900,000 in severance pay over the next year and a half, the company said in a securities filing last week.
Clifton Rutledge, the former CEO of Bojangles', will receive $900,000 in severance pay over the next year and a half, the company said in a securities filing last week. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Almost exactly one year after going public, Charlotte-based Bojangles’ says financial results for the first three months of the year were better than expected despite ramped up efforts from competitors.

In a call with analysts, Chief Executive Officer Clifton Rutledge also hinted at a new menu item that Bojangles’ will debut later this year.

For the first quarter, the chicken-and-biscuits chain reported net income of 21 cents a share, above the estimate of 18 cents a share from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Sales totaled $127.7 million, above the Wall Street estimate of $126.8 million. Comparable restaurant sales, an industry term for sales at locations open at least one year, increased 2 percent over the year, Bojangles’ reported in a statement Thursday.

“I feel very good about where we are as a brand,” Rutledge said during the call.

Without naming a specific new food, Rutledge said Bojangles’ will introduce a new, limited-time item that has “tested well” so far.

“You can expect more exciting menu news from us later this year,” Rutledge said.

Bojangles’ management also shed light on the company’s growth progress.

The chain opened nine new restaurants in the quarter, bringing the company’s total store count to 671.

When it went public last year, Bojangles’ management team vowed to grow its store footprint by 7 to 8 percent each year, filling out its core in the Carolinas and then gradually spreading out into adjacent markets.

Rutledge said Thursday the company has approximately 100 new restaurant sites either approved or under construction.

Rutledge also said the company managed to attain strong quarterly results despite “significant discounting and aggressive promotions” by competitors. That includes, for example, McDonald’s, which introduced all-day breakfast last fall.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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