Published in Economic Development

Citing ‘uncharted waters with COVID-19,’ Meritage Hospitality suspends earnings guidance

BY Tuesday, March 31, 2020 03:11pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Restaurant operator Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. today suspended financial guidance and postponed its annual meeting that had been scheduled for May 19.

The Grand Rapids-based operator of 337 Wendy’s and other restaurants in 16 states, Meritage Hospital (OTCQX: MHGU) made both moves “in view of the rapidly changing developments regarding COVID-19, and with the health of our shareholders and employees in mind.” 

CEO Robert Schermer Jr. COURTESY PHOTO

Directors will rescheduled the annual shareholder meeting at a later date, according to the company.

“We are navigating uncharted waters with COVID-19,” CEO Robert Schermer Jr. said in a statement. “The company has taken numerous new measures to protect public health and safeguard our Wendy’s employees in our restaurants. We continue to operate our Wendy’s restaurants with drive-thru only service and have indefinitely closed our six casual-dining restaurants until the individual state mandates are lifted.”

Prior to the pandemic and closure in dining, Meritage Hospitality recorded record sales from the introduction of Wendy’s breakfast menu, Schermer said.

Meritage Hospitality in February reported sales of $467.5 million for the 2019 fiscal year, up 7.4 percent from the prior year, with net income of $12.9 million.

At the time, the company forecasted what Schermer described as a “transformative year” in 2020 with “robust sales growth of approximately $100 million that includes the rollout of breakfast in our Wendy’s restaurants, new restaurant development, modernizations and the continued development of our new Morning Belle breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant concept.”

The 2019 sales and earnings report included guidance of 20 percent to 25 percent sales growth, and net income growth of 15 percent to 20 percent.

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