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El Pollo Loco shares plunge after earnings miss expectations

El Pollo Loco shares plunge after earnings miss expectations
An El Pollo Loco restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. (Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

Shares of El Pollo Loco plunged 21% a day after the fast-food chain released second-quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations.

The Costa Mesa company, which is known for Mexican-style grilled chicken, reported sales of $89.5 million in the three months ended July 1, compared with $86.9 million a year earlier. That fell short of analysts' expectations of $93 million, according to FactSet.

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Net income, which was in line with expectations, totaled $7.2 million, or 18 cents a share, up from $6.6 million, or 22 cents a share, a year earlier.

El Pollo Loco shares closed Friday at $14.56, down $3.80, or 21%.

Stephen Sather, chief executive of El Pollo Loco, said the chain "kind of lost the value focus" in the first half of 2015.

"We employ a balance of a high/low pricing strategy," Sather said in a Thursday call with analysts. "What I think happened is we temporarily overweighed this to the higher priced items."

El Pollo Loco shares have taken a rollicking ride since the company went public last year, with the stock up 60% to $24.03, from its IPO price of $15. The stock then hit above $40 last August before tumbling to below $20 in July.

Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ByShanLi

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