• 'Negative guest counts' lower analysts' EPS projections for CEC

IRVING, Texas -- After CEC Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: CEC), parent company of Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza, missed its first quarter 2002 earnings projections, Piper Jaffray and BB&T Capital Markets decreased earnings estimates on April 16.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, analyst Allan Hickok expects earnings per diluted share to drop to $2.60, 5 cents below its original projection. Hickok also lowered his 2003 projection to $3.05 from $3.10.

BB&T Capital's Barry Stouffer trimmed his 2002 EPS estimate to $2.54 from $2.57.

Stouffer rates the stock a hold, and wrote that "negative guest counts in non-remodeled stores and cost pressures are impairing EPS visibility."

Hickok rates the stock outperform, and expects rising sales to help offset the company's increased insurance costs.

Morgan Keegan & Co. analyst Robert M. Derrington, also rates the stock outperform, and expects same-store sales to "remain solidly positive through the year and into 2003." He added that "aggressive investors should build positions."

Consensus for the year is $2.61 and $3.02 for 2003.

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