Profit up at Applebee's, IHOP parent DineEquity

DineEquity Inc., the Glendale-based owner of IHOP Restaurants and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, is making a heavy push toward franchising.

More than 95% of the company’s thousands of restaurants are now owned by entrepreneurs, DineEquity said Tuesday when it announced its first quarter earnings.

The franchise model helps keep the company’s balance sheet from wild swings, leading to a 5.5% boost in profit to $31.3 million, or $1.64 a share, from $29.7 million, or $1.53 a share during the same quarter a year earlier.

Despite mild winter weather and DineEquity’s ongoing remodeling efforts at its restaurants, revenue slipped 18% to $245.6 million from $300.2 million, due in part to the refranchising effort. Sit-down casual restaurants have been among the worst performers of the recession and its aftermath as they face competition from cheaper and more hip fast-casual competitors.

Same-store sales at Applebee’s locations open more than a year were up 1.2% compared with last year as fewer guests paid more for their meals.

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-- Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

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