Saturday, May 19, 2018
Business

Bloomin' Brands delivers mixed quarterly performance as diners shy away from casual chains

TAMPA — The Tampa-based parent company of four major restaurant chains — Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's, Bonefish Grill and Fleming's — reported a mixed performance in its first quarter on Wednesday morning, recording a profit of $43.9 million, up from $34.5 million a year earlier. But Bloomin' also saw quarterly revenues fall 1.7 percent to $1.14 billion, while dining traffic declined at all four chains.

For corporate parent Bloomin' Brands Inc., the bright spot may be the 1.4 percent uptick in U.S. restaurant sales by Outback, the company's flagship steakhouse chain. The other three chains saw drops in sales, especially at Carrabba's Italian Grill and the more upscale Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Carrabba's sales slipped 3.8 percent while customer traffic fell a more serious 7.2 percent in the quarter — a result, in part, of a revised 2016 menu that did not sustain dining momentum. Fleming's, which has proved more resilient in the face of the backlash against chain dining, also suffered in the quarter with sales down 2.9 percent and traffic off 7.5 percent.

Still, Bloomin' noted there are signs of improvement in a casual dining sector buffeted by strong competition and customers often looking for non-chain dining experiences.

"The first quarter was a strong start to the year, and set us up well to achieve our 2017 goals," stated Liz Smith, Bloomin' Brands CEO. "We were pleased with our performance, particularly at Outback where our investments are gaining traction. We continue to make progress domestically, reallocating spending away from discounting toward investments that strengthen brand health. In addition, our international businesses are performing well and poised for growth."

Executives especially cited the opportunity to expand its Outback presence in China.

The company said it had profit of 41 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 54 cents per share. The results topped Wall Street expectations. Bloomin' attributed the quarterly 1.7 percent revenue dip primarily to the sale of Outback Steakhouse South Korea restaurants in July 2016.

In addition, Bloomin' Brands shares have enjoyed the uptick in the overall stock market, increasing 10 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has climbed 14 percent in the last 12 months.

Wall Street apparently liked the turnaround strategy outlined in a conference call with Bloomin' executives. Company shares closed at $21, up nearly 6 percent Wednesday, the stock's highest price since August of 2015.

Industry headwinds remain. "Factors like restaurant oversupply and additional competition for dining occasions continue to take their toll on chain traffic," warns Victor Fernandez of the restaurant market research firm TDn2K in his latest industry assessment.

This story has been updated to reflect corrected traffic and sales figures.

Comments
Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

One day in April, I returned from a camping trip - a quick 24 out of the city - and ran a load of laundry. Whatís more telling is what I didnít do.I didnít hose down a muddy tent, I didnít soak a shoddily cleaned pot, and I categorically did not empt...
Published: 05/19/18
Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in Americ...
Published: 05/19/18
Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

SOUTH PASADENA ó Like his father, who founded the Crabby Billís seafood restaurant chain, John Loder Sr. had a larger-than-life personality. That was one reason he dived into the real estate business, becoming a well-known, if at times controversial ...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/19/18
Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

TAMPA ó A decade ago, the Great Recession put Hillsborough and Pinellas countiesí efforts to grow their foreign exports on hold.But since then those efforts have returned, gained support and momentum, expanded the range of their ambition and are now ...
Published: 05/18/18
Florida unemployment holds at 3.9 percent, state adds 9,600 jobs

Florida unemployment holds at 3.9 percent, state adds 9,600 jobs

Floridaís economy appears to have plateaued with its unemployment rate holding at 3.9 percent for the seventh straight month, according to the April report released Friday.But some economists say it may be a good thing if the rate doesnít fall much m...
Published: 05/18/18
Lawsuit over Riverwalk Place tower in downtown Tampa settled

Lawsuit over Riverwalk Place tower in downtown Tampa settled

TAMPA ó A lawsuit over the mix of residences and offices in the planned $350 million Riverwalk Place tower has been dropped.Last August, Riverwalk Tower Investment-Intown LLC, which had been expected to be one of the developers in the project, filed ...
Published: 05/18/18
Orlandoís new attractions power jump in theme park attendance

Orlandoís new attractions power jump in theme park attendance

By MIKE SCHNEIDERORLANDO ó The arms race to build new theme park attractions in Orlando is paying dividends. A new report released this week shows theme park attendance at the largest parks in North America last year was up 2.3 percent, powered by ne...
Published: 05/18/18
How Mosaicís relocation could help Tampa International Airport land a flight to Brazil

How Mosaicís relocation could help Tampa International Airport land a flight to Brazil

Tampa International covets a nonstop flight to S„o Paulo, Brazil. Mosaic Co, which is moving its headquarters to Hillsborough County, has huge holdings in the country, including several mines. Could Mosaicís relocation help TIA realize its dream? It ...
Published: 05/18/18
Remember that upscale Guy Harvey RV resort near Tarpon Springs. Forget the Guy Harvey part

Remember that upscale Guy Harvey RV resort near Tarpon Springs. Forget the Guy Harvey part

HOLIDAY ó A year ago this month, Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts announced plans for its first-ever RV park, near Tarpon Springs where the Anclote River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.The $35 million resort, named after the popular Jamaican marine artist...
Published: 05/18/18
American Dream Miami to become largest mall in U.S. after final approval

American Dream Miami to become largest mall in U.S. after final approval

MIAMI ó A gigantic $4 billion retail and entertainment complex won government approval Thursday after years of debate, greenlighting what promises to be the largest mall in North America, just a few miles from the environmentally sensitive Everglades...
Published: 05/18/18