Ahead of the Bell: Bloomin' Brands

Bloomin' Brands 2nd-qtr profit rises 25 pct on sales growth and profitability improvements

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bloomin' Brands Inc., which operates Outback Steakhouse and other restaurant chains, said its second-quarter net income rose 25 percent, boosted by higher sales and labor-cost improvements.

For the quarter ended June 30, the Tampa, Fla.-based company, which went public in August, earned $17.4 million, or 16 cents per share, up from $14 million, or 13 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding charges related to debt refinancing and management fees, the company said it posted an adjusted profit of 18 cents per share for the recent quarter.

Bloomin credited the jump in profit to higher sales and better management of labor costs stemming from productivity initiatives.

Revenue rose 2.7 percent to $980.9 million from $955.5 million, boosted by increases in the number of customers and "modest" price increases, the company said.

Revenue at domestic company owned restaurants open at least 18 months increased 2.4 percent. The metric is a key measure of a retailer's health, because it excludes revenue at stores that opened or closed during the year.

The increase, which covered Bloomin's four major restaurant brands, included 2.3 percent growth at Outback Steakhouse restaurants and a 6.8 percent jump at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar locations.

For the full year 2012, Bloomin' said it expects to post an adjusted profit of at least 91 cents per share on sales of about $4 billion. But if the underwriters of the company's initial public offering decide to exercise their option to buy additional shares of the company's stock, it could reduce the earnings by about 1 cent per share.

Last month, Bloomin' Brands priced its initial public offering of 16 million shares at $11 per share, below the $13 to $15 per share expected, for gross proceeds of $176 million. Other selling stockholders offered 3 million additional shares. And underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 2.4 million shares, half from Bloomin' Brands and half from selling shareholders.

In the weeks since, the company's shares have risen about 22 percent to close Tuesday at $13.45.

Bloomin' Brands' other chains include Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill. It operates more than 1,400 restaurants in 48 states and 20 countries. Its name comes from a signature dish at Outback Steakhouse, an onion carved to resemble a flower that is then deep fried.

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