The market's having a fiesta with Chuy's Holdings (Nasdaq: CHUY ) .
Shares of the fast-growing chain of Tex-Mex casual-dining restaurants popped 15% higher last week after it posted better-than-expected quarterly results -- sending Chuy's to fresh highs.
Restaurant stocks have been surprisingly popular IPOs this summer, but they haven't necessarily been barn burners. Bloomin' Brands (Nasdaq: BLMN ) -- the company behind the Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill chains -- is trading 18% above last month's IPO at $11, but the company originally wanted to go public between $13 and $15 . High-end chophouse operator Del Frisco's (Nasdaq: DFRG ) is trading 14% higher, but it's the same deal. It had to lower the number of shares and the price of those shares before completing its IPO.
Chuy's is the rock star, for now. The stock has soared 58% since selling 6.7 million shares at $13 in late July.
Last week's second-quarter report was solid. Revenue soared 32% to $43.5 million, fueled primarily by the 37-unit chain's brisk expansion. Pro forma net income rose 40% to $0.17 a share. Analysts were only expecting a profit of $0.16 a share on $43.1 million.
There isn't exactly a consensus of opinion around Fooldom when it comes to Chuy's. I was excited about its prospects after visiting its first Florida location last month, learning the things that set it apart from the countless other Tex-Mex and Mexican chains out there. Fellow Fool John Maxfield wasn't impressed at all. He worries about the moat, debt, and brief corporate history.
The one thing that we can probably agree on is that Chuy's isn't exactly cheap. The 58% pop leaves us with a company valued at 37 to 38 times its projected profitability for this year. Even KeyBanc -- one of the underwriters that took Chuy's public this summer -- initiated coverage two weeks ago with a neutral "hold" rating.
Chuy's is no Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG ) . The chain's top-line growth is almost entirely the handiwork of opening up new eateries. Comps only increased at a 1.9% clip during the quarter. Chipotle's revenue may have grown by just 21% during the same period, but that was powered by an 8% surge in same-unit sales growth.
However, there's also a big difference between the 1,316 Chipotle locations and the mere 37 Chuy's restaurants. Chuy's is considerably earlier in its life cycle, though obviously it has a long way to go to show that it has the kind of legs and cult status that Chipotle has achieved with its burrito-rolling prowess.
I'm still going to keep an eye on Chuy's. I would love to see the valuation become more attractive, but it's hard to bet against a company that delivers strong quarterly results in its first outing as a public company.
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