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  • PizzaExpress reports sales decline, stock falls

LONDON -- Shares of PizzaExpress tumbled in early trading on the FTSE after the 300-store chain released a disappointing same-store sales report for its second quarter of fiscal 2003.

According to published reports, it's expected that the sale price for the company, which is accepting bids for private takeover, will decline as a result.

On Jan. 15, PizzaExpress announced a 5.1 percent drop in same-store sales for the 14 weeks ended Dec. 29. For the half-year period ended on the same date, same-store sales dropped 4.8 percent.

The company said sales remain down at its 130 core restaurants within London's M25 beltway, a key tourist area. Tourism has not rebounded there since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Just after noon London time, shares of PizzaExpress were down 3 percent at 321 pence (U.S. $5.16). One year ago its shares traded at 925 pence (U.S. $14.86).

According to a report by Dow-Jones Newswires, Old Mutual market analyst Greg Feehely said the news of PizzaExpress' disappointing performance will likely lead him to cut his earnings forecasts. Feehely also said shareholders should consider seriously any cash takeover offer of around 350 pence (U.S. $5.62) per share should PizzaExpress receive such a bid.

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