Posted on Nation’s Restaurant News by Lisa Jennings | March 12, 2015

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El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc.’s systemwide same-store sales rose 7.6 percent for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, the company said Thursday.

Steve Sather, president and CEO of Costa Mesa, Calif.-based El Pollo Loco, said it was the chain’s 14th consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth, which he attributed to its “QSR-plus” positioning and a “compelling value proposition, and broad menu offerings anchored by our signature fire-grilled chicken.”

Sather said El Pollo Loco’s growth to the East will continue in 2015.

“Our initial expansion into Texas has gone extremely well, and we expect to open 27 new El Pollo Loco restaurants in 2015, including an additional six to eight restaurants in the Houston area,” Sather said in a statement. “We believe that our differentiated ‘faster fast casual’ concept and strong operations position us well for sustainable long-term growth and further value creation on behalf of our shareholders.”

The company’s net income for the quarter and the year were affected by last year’s initial public offering and debt refinancing. Adjusting for those and other costs, pro forma net income for the quarter increased nearly 61 percent, to $5.5 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with $3.4 million, or 9 cents per share a year ago.

For the year, pro forma net income increased 24 percent, to $21.5 million, or 55 cents per share, compared to $17.3 million, or 45 cents per share, a year ago.

In its outlook for 2015, El Pollo Loco expects same-store sales growth ranging between 3 percent and 5 percent, along with the opening of 16 new company restaurants and 11 franchised units.