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Bob Evans Farms beats expectations in 4Q

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Bob Evans Farms Inc.'s shares jumped in after-hours trading Tuesday after the restaurant operator reported a better-than-expected fourth quarter and strong full-year revenue forecast.

The Columbus, Ohio company owns its namesake Bob Evans restaurant chain and agreed in January to sell its Mimi's Cafe chain for $50 million to LeDuff America Inc. It also sells some food products under the Bob Evans and Owens brand names.

Bob Evans reported after the market closed that it earned $27 million, or 97 cents per share, for the quarter that ended April 26. That's compared to $22 million, or 76 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of the prior year. After adjusting for impairment charges and other special items, the company earned 71 cents per share versus 80 cents per share.

Earnings per share benefited from a 4.2 percent reduction in the average number of shares outstanding year over year.

Its total revenue slipped to $353.9 million from $413.5 million.

Still the quarter came in ahead of market expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet were anticipating that the company would earn 64 cents per share for the quarter on revenue of $331.4 million.

Revenue from stores open at least a year — considered a key indicator of financial performance as it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores — increased 0.5 percent.

Bob Evans Chairman and CEO Steve Davis said that the company's namesake chain did suffer slower sales early in the fourth quarter due to poor weather and a tough economic environment, but sales improved in March and April.

Davis also said that the company's growth story has become more well defined with the sale of Mimi's Cafe, updates of its Bob Evans restaurants and investment in its foods business. He said the company is a strong brand with two growing businesses that are focused on improved revenue and margins.

The company plans to complete a remodel of 233 restaurants by the end of the fiscal year. It has already updated a number of its sites and said that sales at these sites are outperforming those at non-remodeled sites.

The company anticipates earning between $2.60 and $2.67 per share for the year on an adjusted basis with revenue of approximately $1.4 billion. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $2.75 per share on revenue of $1.37 billion.

Shares of the company jumped nearly 4 percent to $47.78 in after-hours trading. Its stock added 6 cents to close regular trading at $46 Tuesday.