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Cheesecake Factory profit, customer traffic rise

(Reuters) - Cheesecake Factory Inc on Wednesday reported higher quarterly profit after an increase in customers, particularly in the mid-afternoon and late-night hours, helped sales at its established namesake restaurants grow more than expected.

The report from the company, known for its array of cheesecakes and ample portions, defied the tepid U.S. economic recovery that has had companies like McDonald's Corp and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc serving up disappointing results or growth forecasts.

Shares in Cheesecake Factory rose 2.2 percent to $33.49 in extended trading.

Third-quarter net income at Cheesecake Factory, increased to $27.2 million, or 49 cents per share, from $20.6 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue increased 5.4 percent to $453.8 million, helped by a 1.5 percent increase in guest traffic.Ÿ

Sales at restaurants open at least 18 months were up 2.9 percent at the Cheesecake Factory and fell 2 percent at Grand Lux Cafe, its smaller chain.

Analysts polled by Consensus Metrix expected a 2.3 percent sales gain at Cheesecake Factory and a 0.8 percent fall at Grand Lux Cafe.

Calabasas Hills, California-based Cheesecake Factory forecast 2013 earnings in the range of $2.10 to $2.18 per share on same-restaurant sales growth of 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Analysts' average estimate is for earnings of $2.16 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company also said it planned to raise its prices next year, but not enough to fully offset food price inflation.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by Gary Crosse)

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