IRVING, Texas -- CEC Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:CEC), parent company of Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza, announced it beat its first quarter earnings projections, but suffered a 2.9 percent same-store sales decline during the period ended March 30, 2003.

According to a release, new store openings helped drive revenues up 6.6 percent to $184.1 million, compared to $172.8 million in Q1 2002.

Net income increased 3 percent to $27.4 million, up from $26.8 million in the same period last year.

Earnings per share on a diluted basis in the first quarter were $1, compared to 94 cents in the comparable period last year. The quarter's earnings beat analysts' expectations by a penny.

The period's comp-store sales dip was attributed to the challenging economy and harsh winter weather that pounded the Eastern U.S. during the period.

In the release, Rodney Carter, CEC chief financial officer, warned that comp-sales in the second quarter likely will fall due to the timing of the Easter holiday.

During an April 15 conference call, the company said it will reduce the cost of all rides and games to one token, while also increasing the ticket "payoffs" for games. Chuck E. Cheese's tested the half-price initiative in four major markets over the past several months. It hopes the move will better position it to compete with movie theaters for entertainment dollars.

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