Shooting Lone Star

The rocky market run of casual-steakhouse pioneer Lone Star Steakhouse (Nasdaq: STAR  ) is coming to an end now that the company has accepted a $27.10 cash buyout offer from a Dallas-based equity fund.

The bright side? Lone Star will finally be owned in the state it's named for. The company has been based in Kansas -- a state where people love their steaks -- since its inception.

Watching Lone Star go private is bittersweet. When I started at The Fool, it was 1995 and I was slicing and dicing restaurant stocks as TMF Edible. Lone Star and Outback Steakhouse (NYSE: OSI  ) were popular equities in the early 1990s, an era when the casual steakhouse made up a growth sector.

Wall Street saw plenty of imitators go public on those coattails. You can't buy shares in Timber Lodge Steakhouse or Sagebrush anymore. Roadhouse Grill is a penny stock. Logan's Roadhouse took off but was then acquired by Cracker Barrel parent CBRL Group (Nasdaq: CBRL  ) . Some have taken off and stayed aloft, such as Longhorn parent RARE Hospitality (Nasdaq: RARE  ) and Texas Roadhouse (Nasdaq: TXRH  ) , which enjoyed a successful IPO fewer than two years ago.

No stock is without its hiccups, but Lone Star failed to provide the more consistent growth that rival Outback was able to post over the years. Lone Star was often on the short end of profit margins, expansion, and comps growth. A buyout of $27.10 per share may seem like a fair price, but it's actually less than the shares were fetching 10 years ago.

Monday's trading in Lone Star -- with the stock rising $0.38 a share above Friday afternoon's buyout price -- may lead some to believe that a bidding war may take place. But Lone Star isn't in a prime position to negotiate a much better deal than it's getting. In the company's quarter ended in June, comps at the namesake concept fell dramatically, as did profits. That Lone Star jumped at a buyout offer seems to indicate that it didn't expect that situation to improve anytime soon.

Fare thee well, Lone Star. Don't forget to get those tattered coattails dry-cleaned on the way out.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders whether the roadhouse decor of scattered peanut shells would look good on top of a fine linen tablecloth. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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