The Cheesecake Factory Inc. reported worse-than-expected first quarter earnings of $26 million, or 56 cents a share, the company announced after markets closed on Wednesday. Analysts had predicted earnings of 68 cents a share, according to Thompson Financial. The Calabasas-based company reported total first quarter revenue of more than $590 million, up from $563 million for the first quarter of last year. Comparable restaurant sales increased 2.1 percent for the quarter. The disappointing numbers come as casual-dining restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory and Applebee’s Grill and Bar are struggling to compete with smaller fast-casual eateries including Panera and Chipotle. Sales at the most popular casual-dining chains increased only 0.1 percent in 2017, according to a report by foodservice consulting firm Technomic. Compare that to the 8.9 percent growth at top fast-casual chains. Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) on Wednesday rose 27 cents, or half of 1 percent, to $50.92. In the first two hours after-hours trading, the stock bumped up 38 cents to $51.30.