March 11, 2015 / 8:28 PM / 4 years ago

Shake Shack says comparable sales growth likely to slow in 2015

(Reuters) - Shake Shack Inc (SHAK.N) forecast slowing same-restaurant sales growth in 2015 and swung to a loss in the fourth quarter, helping to send the hamburger chain’s shares down as much as 9 percent after its first quarterly report as a public company.

People walk past Shake Shack in New York January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

New York City-based Shake Shack began as a hotdog cart in New York’s Madison Square Park and amassed a near cult following for its rich milkshakes, crinkle fries and hormone- and antibiotic-free burgers.

The company’s shares debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in January at more than twice their offered price of $21, buoyed by growth-hungry investors hoping to replicate the red-hot run of industry darling Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N).

Sales at Shacks open at least two years grew 4.1 percent in the year ended Dec. 31, down from 5.9 percent a year earlier, the company said.

The company said it expected same-restaurant sales to grow in the low single digits in 2015.

Same-restaurant sales rose 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter, beating the average analyst estimate of 4 percent, according to research firm Consensus Metrix.

The company swung to a loss of $1.4 million, or 5 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from a profit of $997,000, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.

Shake Shack attributed the loss to a $1.1 million after-tax charge related to its IPO.

Revenue rose 51.5 percent to $34.8 million.

Shake Shack shares were down 6.2 percent at $43.99 in after-market trading on Wednesday.

Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings

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