Bridging the best of both worlds has made Dave & Buster's Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) one of the steadiest plays in an otherwise rocky restaurant industry. The chain of "eatertainment" restaurants that combine casual dining with high-tech arcade gaming has been a big winner since its return as a public company. The stock has more than quadrupled since going public three years ago.
Dave & Buster's stock hit yet another all-time high on Friday, and that kind of momentum is going to heighten expectations as we head into next week's fresh financials. The 95-unit chain will report its first-quarter results on Tuesday after the market close.
Start playing with your food
Wall Street's holding out for another period of double-digit growth at Dave & Buster's. They see revenue of $299.85 million, 14.5% ahead of where it was a year earlier. The growth will come mostly from expansion, but also from an impressive streak of positive comps. Dave & Buster's has beaten the casual-dining benchmark when it comes to comparable-restaurant sales for 19 consecutive quarters.
The chain's success comes from its model. Many table-service concepts are struggling to draw traffic since they're located in malls and shopping centers with waning retail interest. Dave & Buster's brings the party. It's a one-stop shop for food, drinks, and game-fueled revelry. It works, as the concept has avoided the "restaurant recession" that is tripping up so many established operators. Dave & Buster's has posted year-over-year revenue growth between 12.4% and 20.8% in each of its first 10 quarters since its late 2014 IPO, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Another big streak that Dave & Buster's is working on -- and probably a good reason why it's a four-bagger since pricing at the low end of its initial IPO pricing range due to a lack of investor interest -- is that it consistently smokes analysts on the bottom line.
Dave & Buster's has managed to beat Wall Street profit targets by more than just a token penny or two in each of its first 10 quarters as a public company. Analysts see earnings per share climbing 13% to $0.81 a share for the quarter on Tuesday. History tells you to bet on the over.
Wall Street's been playing a game of trying to keep up with Dave & Buster's reality. Wells Fargo had to boost its price target from $65.50 to $75 on Tuesday. It sees healthy comps and slightly higher-than-expected earnings, but the hot stock's track record suggests that Wells Fargo isn't going out on much of a limb with that prognostication.
Healthy momentum and analysts boosting price targets don't mean that Dave & Buster's shareholders will be sitting pretty when the stock opens for trading on Wednesday. The stock actually took a hit last time out, posting its weakest bottom-line beat to date and initiating a ho-hum growth outlook for 2017. Dave & Buster's is winning the long game, but it still needs to live up to the hype with every passing quarter.