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Outback Steakhouse hiking menu prices again, Tampa’s Bloomin’ Brands says

While Bloomin’ Brands raises prices, it will paying out shareholder dividends and engage in stock buybacks.
A sign thanks customers outside of Outback Steakhouse in Palm Harbor on May 8, 2020. After struggling throughout the pandemic, Outback's parent company, Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, announced Friday that it was increasing prices throughout 2022.
A sign thanks customers outside of Outback Steakhouse in Palm Harbor on May 8, 2020. After struggling throughout the pandemic, Outback's parent company, Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, announced Friday that it was increasing prices throughout 2022. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Feb. 18|Updated Feb. 18

Your local Outback Steakhouse menu price increases from last fall aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re rising again.

Outback’s parent company, Tampa-based Bloomin’ Brands, will push its prices up another 2 percent this year, executives said on a call with investors Friday morning. That increase is likely to stay in place at least through the year.

Last year’s 3 percent increase was set to save the company $100 million. This adjustment, which brings the total increase to 5 percent, will push those savings up to around $155 million.

Bloomin’ blamed the price hikes on inflation, as the costs of most goods and labor have stayed higher than were anticipated last fall.

“It became clear that the 3 percent pricing we previously discussed would not be enough to offset the increased inflationary pressures our industry is facing,” chief financial officer Chris Meyer said. “Given that we had not taken a material menu price increase since 2019, we are confident that 5 percent is appropriate.”

Related: Outback, Fleming's to raise menu prices, Tampa's Bloomin' Brands says

At the same time, Bloomin’ announced it was issuing a shareholder dividend of 14 cents per share, at a cost of around $50 million; and authorizing a $125 million stock buyback to increase the value of its shares.

“It represents a modest step up from where we were previously, because we had an annual dividend of 11 cents per share back in 2019,” Meyer said. “I think honestly it provides a yield that is in line with our peer group, and I believe it is a sign of confidence in the stability of our cash flow that we can commit to this dividend on an ongoing basis.”

For September through December 2021, sales at all restaurants were up 5.3 percent over the same period in 2019, with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (20.3 percent) and Carrabba’s Italian Grill (10.3 percent) performing especially well. The company had an operating margin of 16.5 percent in the quarter.

“We lowered prices when we introduced Outback’s new menu and customers took notice,” Bloomin’ Brands spokesperson Cathie Koch said. “Guests are ordering more appetizers, beverages and larger steaks.”

For the fiscal year, Bloomin’ Brands reported revenues of more than $4.1 billion, a nearly $1 billion improvement over 2020. It also reported $222.9 million in earnings, a turnaround from a $158.8 million loss in 2020. The company projected revenues of up to $4.35 billion in the coming year.

Bloomin’ stock rose to its highest price since October on Friday morning, settling at $24.42 per share by noon.

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