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Shares of Chuck E Cheese operator fall on weak 3Q

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of CEC Entertainment Inc. fell Friday after the operator of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants reported a lower profit and sales for its third quarter.

THE SPARK: The company, based in Irving, Texas, said sales at locations open at least a year fell 2.1 percent. The figure is a key metric because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations. Net income also fell 5 percent.

THE BIG PICTURE: CEC Entertainment has been struggling to reinvigorate its chain of more than 500 children's pizza restaurants. Last year, it revamped the image for its giant rodent mascot, a makeover that included replacing the man who voiced its character for nearly two decades.

For the start of the current quarter, the company noted that sales at locations open at least a year have turned positive. But it expects the figure to be relatively flat for the period.

Sterne Agee analyst Lynne Collier noted that sales attributable to children's birthday parties declined 11 percent in the quarter.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of CEC Entertainment were down almost 7 percent at $43.21. Over the past year, the stock is up almost 47 percent.