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Why Jack in the Box Inc. Shares Bounced Back Today

Image source: Jack in the Box.

What: Shares of Jack in the Box (NASDAQ: JACK) were bouncing back today on a better-than-expected earnings report. As of 11:48 a.m. ET, the stock was up 14%.

So what: The fast-food chain had tumbled following its prior earnings report on competition from McDonald's all-day breakfast, but today the chain was helped by Qdoba, its Mexican-food chain and Chipotle competitor. The fast-food chain posted an adjusted earnings per share of $0.84, up from $0.61 and ahead of estimates at $0.70, while revenue improved 0.8% to $361.2 million, essentially in line with expectations. 

Same-store sales at Jack in the Box restaurants were flat in the quarter, but grew 2.1% at Qdoba. Profits improved as the company eliminated close to $6 million in SG&A expenses as it worked to control costs.

CEO Lenny Comma said, "Operating earnings per share exceeded our expectations and guidance," benefiting from cost controls and improved margins. 

Now what: Jack in the Box's guidance was not particularly inspiring. The company expects same-store sales of flat to 1% at Jack in the Box locations and 1.5%-2.5% at Qdoba restaurants. The guidance may be due to its lapping a strong year of same-store sales growth, and that it still sees earnings per share improving close to 20%, projecting a range of $3.50-$3.63 for the year as it continues to make improvements in its cost structure. Still, I'd like to see more robust sales growth before diving into the stock.

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