Like many retailers we’re seeing softer sales at our restaurants in California, Phoenix and Las Vegas, which have been hardest hit by the housing downturn, high fuel prices and unemployment.
Fast food restaurant Jack In The Box (JBX) reported earnings before the open this morning that were eye opening. After increasing for 18 consecutive quarters (4 1/2 years), same store sales turned negative at -0.1%. Further, they forecast a 2% decrease in same store sales for the current quarter.
Jack In The Box has been a revitalized strong performer lately (see, for example, “Jack’s Juicy Situation” (subscription required), Barron’s, April 10, 2006) and so I take these results to be indicative of a weak economy. Consider their recent same store sales:
2Q 2008 -0.1%
1Q 2008 +1.5%
3Q 2007 +7.4%
2Q 2007 +6.4%
1Q 2007 +5.6%
4Q 2006 +5.9%
3Q 2006 +2.9%
2Q 2006 +4.0%
1Q 2006 +5.5%
Also worth noting is that Jack In The Box restaurants are concentrated in California (906), Texas (575) and Arizona (174) with those states making up more than 75% of its total stores.
So while the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal reads “Recession? Not So Fast, Say Some: Despite Pain, Economists Begin Dialing Back Dire Forecasts” (subscription), consider me unpersuaded.
Disclosure: Top Gun has no position in Jack In The Box (JBX) shares.