Benihana Dishes Out Healthy Comps - Analyst Blog

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Benihana Inc. ( BNHN ) posted restaurant sales of $23.7 million during the four-week period ending December 4, 2011, reflecting a growth of 4.6% year over year. The upside in sales was primarily driven by continued comparable restaurant sales momentum across all three restaurant concepts.

Benihana Teppanyaki deserves a special mention which accounts for around 67% of total restaurant sales followed by RA Sushi and Haru, representing growth of 23% and 10%, respectively. Comps at Teppanyaki were the highest among all three concepts. The Miami-based company generated 99.5% of its revenues from restaurant sales and the remaining 0.5% from franchise fees and royalties.

Behind the Headline Numbers

The largest operator of Japanese restaurants in the U.S. witnessed company-wide comparable restaurant sales growth of 6.5% to $23.6 million in the second four-week period of the third quarter of 2012, representing the twenty-third consecutive period of growth. However, store operating weeks during the period were 1.6% lower than the year-ago period.

The comparable restaurant sales grew 8.0% at Benihana Teppanyaki restaurants on the back of 6.7% higher guest count. The 8.0% growth came of the top of an 8.9% increase in the same period of the prior year. Same-store sales rose 4.7% at RA Sushi and 1.0% at Haru.

We expect Benihana to finish third-quarter 2012 on a strong-note as the company came up with solid comps in the first two months of the quarter. Continued strong performance assures a solid holiday season at Benihana. The Zacks Consensus earnings estimate for the third quarter is pegged at 9 cents.

Benihana currently operates 96 restaurants, including 63 Benihana Teppanyaki restaurants, 25 RA Sushi Bar restaurants and 8 Haru sushi restaurants. Additionally, the company has 18 franchised Benihana Teppanyaki restaurants, which are operational in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.

Benihana currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank that translates into a short-term Hold rating. We are also maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. Its prime competitors are Papa John's International Inc. ( PZZA ) and P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. ( PFCB ).

BENIHANA INC ( BNHN ): Free Stock Analysis Report

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PAPA JOHNS INTL ( PZZA ): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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