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Ruth's shares up on 4Q beat

WINTER PARK, Fla. (AP) -- Ruth's Hospitality Group Inc. shares jumped to a new high Friday after its fiscal fourth-quarter results came in above market expectations.

The operator of the Ruth's Chris Steak House chain earned $3.6 million, or 10 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 30. That compares with $1.9 million, or 4 cents per share, in the same quarter of the prior year. After adjusting for one-time charges, the company made 18 cents per share from continuing operations.

Revenue increased roughly 15 percent to $115.1 million, with an extra week in the quarter.

The results beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts polled by FactSet expected the company 15 cents per share on revenue of $111.1 million.

Ruth's said that on a comparable 13-week basis, revenue from stores open at least a year rose 5.4 percent at its company owned Ruth's Chris Steak House chain on increased customer traffic and spending per visit. The same measure increased 3.4 percent at its Mitchell's Fish Market operations as higher traffic offset lower spending. And it increased 3.4 percent at franchise restaurants open at least a year. That is a key measure of financial performance because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed sites.

For all of 2012, Ruth's lost $20 million, or 58 cents per share, on revenue of $398.6 million.

The company, based in Winter Park, Fla., owns the Ruth's Chris Steak House, Mitchell's Fish Market, Mitchell's Steakhouse and Cameron's Steakhouse brands. It has more than 150 company and franchisee-owned restaurants worldwide.

Ruth's said that it opened a new restaurant in the current quarter and has plans to open two company owned sites in 2013 and expects its franchise partners will open four or five sites during the year. It also recently announced an agreement to develop four franchised Ruth's Chris Steak House restaurants in China over the next three years.

Ruth's shares rose 39 cents, or 5 percent, to $8.20 in afternoon trading. It hit a new 52-week high of $8.45 earlier in the session.