SAN DIEGO-A record earnings report has rekindled that clown’s longtime dream of a coast-to-coast fast-food empire.San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc. announced record fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $20.1 million, or 51 cents per diluted share, with tax benefits boosting net earnings in the fourth quarter to $43 million, or $1.09 per diluted share. Fourth-quarter earnings were more than 18% higher than the $16.9 million reported in the fourth quarter a year ago.”Jack in the Box has now enjoyed five consecutive years of record net earnings and is on target to reach its goal of becoming a national chain,” says president/CEO Robert J. Nugent. “We plan to achieve our goal by continuing to improve the restaurant experience for our guests, building our brand and growing in a responsible and consistent manner.”Jack in the Box opened 31 new company restaurants during the quarter and achieved its goal of 120 new company stores opening during the year, including 24 in new, southeastern markets.”These markets continue to outperform our goals, and we are on track to open our fourth market in the Southeast–Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.– in the coming year,” Nugent says. “In addition, we will continue growing in Charlotte, Nashville and Baton Rouge.”The company ended the year with 1,311 company-operated and 323 franchised units. Jack in the Box expects to maintain its growth strategy of opening new company restaurants at a rate of 10% a year,Nugent adds.Founded in 1951, Jack in the Box is the nation’s first major drive-thru hamburger chain. The company operates or franchises more than 1,634 quick-serve restaurants in 15 states and has more than 40,000 employees.

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