NEW YORK (AP) -- Drive-in restaurant operator Sonic Corp. posted quarterly earnings Wednesday that topped Wall Street's expectations, despite a dip in revenue that resulted from it converting some of its company-owned restaurants to franchised operations.
It reported that its expenses fell while a key revenue figure rose, helping lift its shares about 2 percent in extended trading.
The Oklahoma City-based company earned $14.4 million, or 24 cents per share, for the quarter that ended May 31. A year earlier, it lost $4.7 million, or 8 cents per share, for the period.
Last year's quarter included a charge of $17.8 million for repaying debt early. Excluding that charge, Sonic said it earned 21 cents a share in the year-ago period.
Analysts on average expected a profit of 22 cents per share for the most recent quarter, according to FactSet.
Total revenue for the quarter was $149.4 million, down from $152.1 million a year ago. The revenue number was roughly in line with expectations.
The 2 percent drop in revenue resulted from Sonic refranchising 35 company-owned restaurants, which means it now gets royalties, rent and other fees instead of sales from those drive-ins. It says 88 percent of its restaurants are franchised.
Quarterly revenue at restaurants open at least a year, however, climbed 2.8 percent. The comparison is a key indicator of a restaurant chain's fiscal health because it isn't skewed by recent openings or closings. The figure rose 3.7 percent at company-owned restaurants and 2.7 percent at franchised drive-ins.
Costs and expenses for the quarter fell to $91.4 million from $96 million.
Seven new franchised drive-ins opened in the quarter, bringing total openings so far this year to 19. Another 15 to 20 restaurants are slated to open in the fiscal fourth quarter.
Sonic, which started as a hamburger and root beer stand in 1953, has more than 3,500 restaurants in 43 states.
Its shares rose 16 cents to $9.50 after hours following the earnings report. The stock ended regular trading at $9.34, up 17 cents.