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UPDATE 1-El Pollo Loco restaurant traffic grows at slowest pace in 4 qtrs
May 14, 2015 / 9:07 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-El Pollo Loco restaurant traffic grows at slowest pace in 4 qtrs

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May 14 (Reuters) - Restaurant chain operator El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc reported weaker-than-expected quarterly comparable sales and forecast a full-year profit largely below estimates, as customer traffic at its restaurants grew at its slowest pace since the company went public in July last year.

The Costa Mesa, California-based company's shares were down 11 percent in after-market trading on Thursday.

System-wide comparable restaurant sales rose 5.1 percent in the first quarter ended April 1, below the 5.7 percent rise analysts polled by research firm Consensus Metrix were expecting.

Same-restaurant sales at company-owned restaurant grew 3.5 percent in the quarter, a much slower pace than the 5.2 percent growth rate expected by analysts.

The company reported a 0.1 percent rise in customer traffic in the quarter, the slowest rate of growth since it debuted on the Nasdaq.

The company reaffirmed its full-year pro forma earnings forecast of 67-71 cents per share, largely below the average analyst estimate of 70 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 11 percent to $90.4 million, beating the average estimate of $88.5 million.

The company's net income rose to $6.8 million, or 17 cents per share, in the first quarter, from $5.5 million or 18 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, El Pollo Loco earned 18 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate by 1 cent.

The company's shares closed at $29.06 on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Up to Thursday's close, the stock had risen more than 17 percent since its July 25 debut.

Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Nayan Das in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings

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