UPDATE 1-Brinker, parent of Chili's restaurants, warns on profit

Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:13pm EST

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Chili's Grill & Bar parent Brinker International Inc on Wednesday tempered its 2013 profit forecast, saying customers will be pressured by the U.S. payroll tax hike, more expensive gasoline and delayed federal tax refund checks.

Earlier this week, there was a similar warning from rival and Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants Inc. Numerous other restaurant chains and retailers have blamed the same trio of pressures for a consumer spending pull back this year.

Dallas-based Brinker said it now expects 2013 earnings per share, before special items, to be at the lower end of its range of $2.30 to $2.45.

Its new forecast was roughly in line with analysts' average estimate for a 2013 profit of $2.32, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and shares jumped 5.5 percent to $33.79 in midday trading.

Brinker also expects sales at established restaurants to grow about 1 percent for the year.

Brinker said same-restaurant sales for its current fiscal third quarter were running down 2.2 percent at Chili's as of Feb. 25. Results at Maggiano's, its smaller chain, were flat.

Brinker will report its third-quarter results on April 23.

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