The parent of the Applebee’s and IHOP restaurant chains reported a first quarter profit that beat Wall Street forecasts, even as revenue fell sharply.
DineEquity Inc. reported net income of $21.8 million ($1.14 a share) in the first quarter ended March 31, compared to $24.6 million ($1.36) in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue fell 34 percent to $163.5 million.
The company beat analysts forecasted earnings of $1.01 a share but narrowly missed revenue estimates by less than $300,000, according to Thomson Financial Network.
The company said the decrease in revenue was mainly due to its completion of the sale of its corporate-owned Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants to franchisees in prior quarters. Going forward, the company expects franchise revenue to grow quarter-over-quarter.
DineEquity Chief Executive Julia Stewart said she was pleased with the progress her company made in the first quarter, including a dividend of 75 cents a share to stockholders.
“Significant strides were made against our strategic priorities. As promised, we announced our capital allocation strategy, which returns significant free cash flow to shareholders through a combination of a meaningful dividend and a $100 million share repurchase authorization,” she said, in a statement.
As a result of the franchising, the company reduced its general and administrative costs to $34 million in the first quarter, compared to $39.6 million a year earlier.
In addition, the company announced in February the re-pricing of its senior secured credit facility, lowering the interest rate of the term loan to 3.75 percent from 4.25 percent.
Shares gained 72 cents, or about 1 percent, to close at $71.12 on the New York Stock Exchange.