Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory posted a drop in full-year earnings today (19 May) and approved a first-quarter cash dividend.

The US company saw net earnings decline 25% to US$3.7m in 2009. Basic earnings per share declined 20.5% to $0.62 in the most recent fiscal year, compared with $0.78 in the previous fiscal year.

The company said its board of directors has approved a first-quarter cash dividend of $0.10 per share, to be paid 12 June to shareholders of record 1 June 2009.

Total revenues also declined, by 10.5% to around $28.6m. Same-store sales at franchised retail units decreased 5.4% during 2009, when compared with the previous fiscal year. The decline is due to the global economic recession that significantly impacted retailing, in general, and regional shopping mall customer traffic, in particular, throughout the US.

Total sales at all franchised and company-owned stores dropped to $112.3m in the fiscal year, versus around $113.3m in system-wide sales during fiscal 2008.

“While the onset of an economic recession resulted in a disappointing financial performance in fiscal 2009 relative to the sales and earnings growth we have reported in recent years, I am pleased to report that we fared better than many retailers with a significant presence in regional shopping malls,” said COO and CFO Bryan Merryman.

For the three months ended 28 February, revenues decreased 6.5% to $7.7m, while net income dropped to $1.04m in the fourth quarter, representing a decrease of 21.9%.