Bloomin' Brands jumps as company explores strategic alternatives

Shares of Bloomin' Brands (BLMN) were trading sharply higher after the restaurant operator reported quarterly results and announced that it is exploring strategic alternatives. EARNINGS/GUIDANCE: Before the market open, Bloomin' Brands reported third quarter adjusted earnings per share of 10c on revenue of $967.1M, compared to consensus estimates of 10c and $965.7M, respectively. Comparable restaurant sales rose 0.2% at U.S. Outback Steakhouse and increased 11.2% for Outback Steakhouse in Brazil, the company said. Looking ahead, Bloomin' Brands reiterated its fiscal 2019 adjusted EPS view of $1.53-$1.61 and lowered its FY19 combined U.S. same-store sales guidance to roughly 1.5% from 2%-2.5%. Analysts expect the company to report FY19 EPS of $1.55. STRATEGIC ALTERNATIVES: Along with its report, Bloomin' Brands announced that it is exploring and evaluating strategic alternatives that "have the potential to maximize value for our shareholders, including but not limited to, a possible sale of the company." The company noted that its board of directors has retained BofA Securities as its financial advisor. "Over the past few years Bloomin' Brands has made significant progress towards its long term objectives to elevate the customer experience, capitalize on the emerging off-premises segment, expand the rapidly growing international business, and improve operating margins. These efforts have created significant market share gains and enhanced profitability," said David Deno, chief executive officer of Bloomin' Brands. "However, despite this continued progress, we believe the current stock price does not reflect the value of the company. That is why the time is right to explore strategic alternatives that have the potential to maximize value for our shareholders. Our Board of Directors is committed to fully evaluating appropriate strategic alternatives while simultaneously supporting the company's ongoing progress against our business plan." Bloomin' Brands added that it intends to proceed in a timely manner, but has not set a definitive timetable for completion of this process. WHAT'S NOTABLE: On August 30, Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners disclosed a 9% stake in Bloomin' Brands, saying in a regulatory filing at the time that Jana intended to have discussions with the company's board of directors and management regarding a sale of the company, divestitures, capital allocation, operations and board composition. PRICE ACTION: In afternoon trading, Bloomin' Brands shares are 9.6% higher at $22.95.

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