April 22, 2009 / 11:27 AM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-P.F. Chang's posts higher first-quarter profit

* Q1 EPS 56 cts; Wall St view 33 cts

* Same-restaurant sales fell 6.6 pct at Bistro locations

* Sees FY 2009 EPS from continuing ops $1.45-$1.50 (Adds details on forecast)

NEW YORK, April 22 (Reuters) - P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc PFCB.O posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by cost cost controls at its Chinese-themed restaurants.

The company also increased its full-year earnings forecast, based on improved operating margins at its restaurants.

First-quarter net income rose to $13.3 million, or 56 cents per share, from $9.6 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting 33 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Consolidated revenue rose to $309.8 million from $305.9 million. Sales at restaurants open at least 18 months fell 6.6 percent at the company’s namesake restaurants and fell 2.2 percent at the Pei Wei chain.

Sit-down restaurants have suffered amid the recession as U.S. diners try to save money amid falling home and investment values, rising unemployment and reduced access to credit.

P.F. Chang’s said it expects the “negative” sales environment to continue through 2009, and it forecast a “significant decline” in average weekly sales. It estimated a drop of 6 percent to 7 percent at its Bistro restaurants and a decline of 4 percent to 5 percent at Pei Wei.

Earlier this year, it forecast 2009 average weekly sales to fall about 6 percent at both its namesake and Pei Wei chains.

But P.F. Chang’s said it expects operating margins at its restaurants to be better than previously expected “due to incremental operational improvement opportunities.”

It now expects fiscal 2009 earnings of $1.45 to $1.50 per share from continuing operations. In February, it forecast 2009 consolidated income from continuing operations to fall about 20 percent from $1.45 a share in 2008.

It also plans to open eight new Bistro restaurants and six new Pei Wei restaurants this fiscal year. (Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman)

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