1 Restaurant Stock That Nearly Doubled Its Profit

If old-timey Western style mixed with delicious food and a gift shop sounds like the American dream to you, then you may love Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (Nasdaq: CBRL  ) . And after a very impressive earnings report this morning, investors are definitely showing some love to the company with a 7.53% increase in stock price. Let's dive into the earnings report and see why a company that investors often overlook is getting all this attention. 

What is a cracker barrel, anyway?
What a fourth quarter for Cracker Barrel! The company reported a profit of $34.7 million, which translates to $1.47 a share. For a comparison, the company made $17.5 million, or $0.75 per share, during the same quarter last year; this means that Cracker Barrel nearly doubled its profit. It should also be noted that the $1.47 EPS crushed analyst estimates of $1.29. No wonder the stock is booming.

This wasn't the only good news for Cracker Barrel. The company's same-store sales on the restaurant side increased 3.8%, while same-store sales grew 3.1% in the retail division. The 2.4% increase in average check total didn't hurt at all and is one of the reasons Cracker Barrel's gross margin increased 0.7 percentage points.

Turns out "cracker barrel" means "characteristic of country life"
Let's see how the company stacks up against its competitors. For the largest cross-section of restaurant companies, I've included Cracker Barrel's most similar competitor, Denny's (Nasdaq: DENN  ) , as well as classic fast-food restaurant McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) . For good measure, I included Chipotle (NYSE: CMG  ) as well, to represent the growing trend of part fast-food, part sit-down restaurant that may threaten to steal market share from places like Cracker Barrel.  

Company

P/E

Quarterly Revenue Growth

Operating Margin

Dividend Yield

Cracker Barrel 17.25 5% 7% 3.1%
Denny's 4.46 (8%) 11% 0%
McDonald's 17.49 0 31% 3%
Chipotle 41.50 21% 17% 0%

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, WSJ, and Fool.com.

As good as this quarter may have been for Cracker Barrel, it still has a long way to go to beat its competition for investor appeal. A mid-range P/E that masks the low operating margin and even lower revenue growth doesn't do Cracker Barrel any favors. But the company may still win investor approval with its impressive dividend yield, which was increased by 25% in April. The yield, combined with a payout ratio of $0.50 per share, could be enough reason for income investors to take a closer look.

If you missed Cracker Barrel because you didn't think it was a viable investment opportunity, you'd better believe that the big hedge fund managers and traders did the same. In fact, we've found plenty of "Stocks Wall Street's Too Rich to Notice." These are consumer-goods companies that we interact with every day but may not realize can make great investments. The Fool has gathered some of our favorite such stocks in one special report, which you can get here for free!

Fool contributor Mark Reeth owns none of the stocks mentioned above, but he does love eating at Cracker Barrel. Follow him on Twitter, @ChristmasReeth. The Motley Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill, and ournewsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's and Chipotle Mexican Grill. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. 


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