SCOTTSDALE, AZ-P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. plans to open about 55 new restaurants in fiscal 2007. The expansion will bring the firm into 25 new markets throughout the country, the company says.

The company’s smaller venue, Pei Wei Asian Diner, a limited service quick-casual concept, will see the lion’s share of openings with between 36 and 38 new venues breaking ground in Detroit, Tampa, Philadelphia, Boston, and South Florida. Chang’s management says it also plans to expand the concept in Southern California, Washington, DC, Texas and Arizona. The locally based firm says it will also develop 19 new Bistro restaurants, its larger, upscale casual concept.

As part of its marketing effort, Chang’s will also spend nearly $2 million this year to test new marketing initiatives for its Pei Wei chain, Russell Owens, president of Pei Wei, said in a conference call with analysts. The company says it also has marketing plans for its Taneko Japanese Tavern, the first of which opened in Scottsdale in October. Chang’s has primarily relied on word of mouth to market its line of Asian restaurants since the chain opened its first Bistro restaurant in 1993.

The company, which operates 33 Bistros, 78 Pei Wei Asian Diners and one Taneko Japanese Tavern, says it expects revenue to top $1 billion in 2007, a 19% increase over the prior year’s figure. Earnings per share are also expected to jump by 17% to $1.45, company officials predict.

Chang’s earned $8.8 million, or 34 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2006, exceeding company expectations. But sales and labor costs cut into quarterly profits, which fell 5.4% from last year’s fourth quarter. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $252 million compared with $214 million in the year-ago period.

Full-year earnings totaled $33.3 million, or $1.24 cents per share, down from the previous year’s earnings of $37.8 million, or $1.40. Revenue for 2006 was $938 million, an increase from 2005 when revenue was $809 million.

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