Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Cost squeeze sends Frisch's profits lower

By Cliff Peale and Jeff McKinney
Enquirer staff writers

Frisch's Restaurants Inc. reported Monday that soft sales at its Big Boy and Golden Corral restaurants as well as higher costs for meat and dairy products drove earnings down 11.8 percent in its fiscal first quarter ending Sept. 19.

The Walnut Hills-based restaurant chain reported earnings of $2.9 million, or 56 cents a share, compared to $3.3 million, or 65 cents a share, for the same period last year.

Total sales increased 9.1 percent to a record $84.5 million. But Craig Maier, president and chief executive officer, said sales at Golden Corral stores open at the same time last year fell 4.5 percent. Same-store sales at Big Boy restaurants rose 0.6 percent.

After stores currently planned are completed, Frisch's will operate 29 Golden Corrals and 89 Big Boys. Now it has 26 Golden Corrals and 88 Big Boys.

Frisch's shares lost $1.15, or 4.7 percent, to close Monday at $23.55.

In other earnings news:

Winton Financial Corp.

A double-digit drop in mortgage banking income caused the parent of Winton Savings and Loan Co. to post a 16.9 percent decline in its fiscal 2004 profits.

Monfort Heights-based Winton Financial earned $4.74 million, or $1.01 a share, down from $5.7 million, or $1.23 a share, during fiscal 2003. Winton's mortgage banking income dropped to about $2.14 million this year, down 34.7 percent from $3.28 million a year ago. The thrift's fee income came in at about $3.7 million, down from $4.41 million a year ago. Winton's net interest income totaled $15.7 million, up about 3.3 percent from a year ago.

For its fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, Winton earned $1.16 million, or 24 cents a share, up from $988,000, or 21 cents a share, from the same year-ago period.

Winton's financial results come two months after the 117-year-old Cincinnati savings bank agreed to be acquired by Wheeling, W.Va.-based WesBanco Inc. in a deal valued at $102.5 million. The merger is expected to be completed in January.

Winton, with assets of nearly $552 million, operates seven branches in Hamilton County.

Shares in Winton closed at $21.60, down 15 cents.

E-mail cpeale@enquirer.com or jmckinney@enquirer.com

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