El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:LOCO) Q1 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

May 02, 2019 • 04:30 pm ET


El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:LOCO) Q1 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


Loading Event

Loading Transcript


Greetings, and welcome to El Pollo Loco First Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. (Operator Instructions) Please note this conference is being recorded.

I will now turn the conference over to your host today, Larry Roberts, Chief Financial Officer. Please proceed.

Laurance Roberts

Thank you, operator, and good afternoon. By now everyone should have access to our first quarter 2019 earnings release. If not, it can be found at www.elpolloloco.com in the Investor Relations section.

Before we begin our formal remarks, I need to remind everyone that our discussion today will include forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and therefore, you should not put undue reliance on them. These statements are also subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from what we expect. We refer all of you to our recent SEC filings for a more detailed discussion of the risks that could impact our future operating results and financial condition. We expect to file our 10-Q for the first quarter of 2019 tomorrow and we encourage you to review that document at your earliest convenience.

During today's call, we will discuss non-GAAP measures, which we believe can be useful in evaluating our performance. The presentation of this additional information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for results prepared in accordance with GAAP, and reconciliations to comparable GAAP measures are available in our earnings release.

I'd like to now turn the call over to President and Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Acoca.

Bernard Acoca

Thanks, Larry. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you all for joining us today. We are pleased with our results in the first quarter, which continue to be driven by the execution of our transformation agenda. For the quarter, we achieved 2.4% system-wide comparable restaurant sales growth and pro forma EPS of $0.15. This marks the third quarter in a row of positive system-wide comparable sales growth since our transformation agenda was implemented.

These results were achieved despite adverse weather conditions in California, where 80% of our restaurants are located. Restaurant contribution margin was 17.7%, which reflected the sales headwinds and higher labor costs we expected. Looking forward to the second quarter, we believe that our new Queso Fresco Tostadas and Overstuffed Quesadilla promotions, which historically have been strong, limited-time offers, will help us regain traffic momentum. In addition, we have gone back to advertising a $20 price point on family meals, which we had stopped advertising in February.

Over the longer term, we remain focused on executing our transformation agenda, which as you know consists of four key strategies: one, developing a people first culture by investing in and growing our talent; two, differentiating the brand by accentuating our strength and building upon them; three, simplifying operations, thereby making it easier to be an employee and franchisee; and four, growing the business responsibly and profitably for the long term.