Spartanburg-based Denny’s reports earnings loss for 2016

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Spartanburg-based Denny’s Corp. said Wednesday its earnings decreased by 46 percent in 2016.

The family-dining chain reported its net income for the year was $19.4 million, compared with nearly $36 million in 2015.

Denny’s attributed the decrease to a $24.3 million operating loss resulting from the liquidation in April of its Advantica Pension Plan, which was closed to new participants at the end of 1999.

For the fourth quarter, Denny’s said its net income increased nearly 29 percent to about $11.3 million, compared with almost $8.8 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

The company said its revenue increased about 4.5 percent to nearly $130 million during the fourth quarter and by about 3.2 percent to almost $507 million for the year.

Denny’s reported its domestic same-store sales increased 0.5 percent, including a 0.1 percent increase at company-owned restaurants and a 0.6 percent increase at franchised stores.

“We are pleased with our performance during the fourth quarter and full year, particularly in light of the pervasive challenges within the restaurant industry,” said John Miller, president and CEO of Denny’s, in a statement.

“Throughout the year, we continued to successfully execute our brand revitalization strategy and delivered an improved and differentiated experience for our guests across food, service, and atmosphere. These efforts resulted in market share gains and impressive growth in company and franchise margins. In addition, we delivered our best year of unit expansion in the past five years.”

The company said it opened 50 restaurants during the year, including 14 international franchised locations. It opened 12 stores during the fourth quarter, including four international franchised locations.

Denny’s said it remodeled 51 stores during the fourth quarter, including 10 company restaurants, bringing its total for the year up to 240 store remodels, including 27 at company locations.

For the year, the company said its operating margin increased 11.1 percent to $65.2 percent at company stores and grew 4.2 percent to $98.8 million at franchise locations. During the fourth quarter, operating margin grew 22.3 percent to $16.6 million at company stores and increased 3.7 percent to $25.2 million at franchise restaurants.

The company said it allocated $58.7 million to its share repurchase program during the year.

Denny’s said its total debt as of Dec. 28, 2016, increased by about 13.8 percent to nearly $245.6 million, compared with nearly $215.8 million at the end of 2015.

The company said it anticipates opening 45 to 50 new restaurants in 2017, a net gain of 10 to 20 stores for the year.

“Moving forward, despite an uncertain industry outlook, Denny’s remains committed to further elevating the guest experience, consistently growing same-store sales, and expanding the brand across the globe, leading to value creation for all franchisees and shareholder,” Miller said.

For more information, visit www.dennys.com.

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