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HOUSTON-Luby’s Inc. reported same-store salesincreases of 6.9% for its first quarter fiscal 2006,pushing its overall sales to $73.3 million. The company has managed to post sales increases foreight consecutive quarters, according to president andCEO Chris Pappas.

The company’s net income of $2.2 million, or 8 cents per diluted share, for the first quarter is an improvement over the $1 million loss, or 5 cent loss per share, for the same period last year. The chain also reduced its outstanding debt by $3.5 million to $10 million.

Pappas said during the company’s earnings conference call that first quarter sales were adversely impacted by Hurricane Rita and rising energy costs. Nonetheless, the chain’s executive team said it waspleased with the start to fiscal 2006, which included income from operations of $3.4 million compared to $0.3 million for the same period last year.

According to the chain, expenses decreased to 62.9% ofsales compared to 65.3% for the same period in fiscal2005. The cost of produce, beef and dairy productsdecreased during the quarter, but seafood and cookingoil prices increased.

Luby’s, which operates 131 restaurants primarily inTexas, continued to improve its operations during thequarter, specifically by enhancing the visualpresentation of its food, Pappas said. “There’sopportunity to grow if we continue to improveoperations,” he concluded.

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