(May 16) OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One of the nation’s fastest-growing restaurant chains laid out its ambitious plans at a recent investor conference.

Applebee’s International Inc., Overland Park, Kan., intends to continue building new restaurants at a rapid rate and giving its shareholders good returns, company officials told investors, analysts and members of the press May 15 in New York.

Applebee’s plans to continue adding at least 100 restaurants per year, as it has for the past decade, eventually reaching 2,300 domestic units, said George Shadid, the company’s chief operating officer. There are 1,400 Applebee’s in the U.S.

The company also expects annual earnings per share growth of 14% to 17% over the next three to five years and annual return on equity of at least 20%, said Lloyd Hill, chairman and chief executive officer of Applebee’s. The company’s earnings per share for 2002 are expected to be $2.11-2.15, officials said at the meeting.