Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY) did it again.
For the 11th time in a row -- in fact, every quarter since its 2014 IPO -- the restaurant and arcade chain topped earnings estimates. In the first quarter of 2017, the busiest season for the company, Dave & Buster's drove earnings per share up 36% from $0.72 to $0.98, easily beating the consensus at $0.81, while revenue increased 16% to $304.1 million.
As the chart below shows, not only has D&B beaten bottom-line expectations in each of its quarterly reports, but it's almost always done so by a wide margin.
|Quarter||EPS Estimate||EPS Result||Surprise|
As you can see, the experts have consistently underestimated Dave & Buster's growth. As a result, the stock has been one of the best performers in the restaurant industry since its IPO as it's more than quadrupled since it debuted at $16 a share.
In its earnings report last week, the company continued to execute as comparable sales topped the casual dining benchmark for the 20th quarter in a row, increasing 2.2%. The restaurant-and-amusement chain has opened seven new locations thus far this year far and grown its store base by 14% over the past year, driving significant sales and profit growth.
This quarter, the company expects to open its 100th location, but sees room in North America for "200+" stores, meaning the company should have several years of strong growth ahead of it as it plans to open 12 locations this year and grow its base by 10% or more annually.
Jumping on the bandwagon
While Wall Street earnings estimates have lagged behind results, analysts have come around on the stock itself as eight of the nine analysts covering it now give it buy ratings. However, Wall Street wasn't always so keen on this unique concept.
When Dave & Buster's went public in 2014, the stock was priced at the low end of its range, indicating weak demand from Wall Street. Prior to the IPO, the company had just one year of profitability, and had been passed around a number of private equity firms before going public. With a rocky history as a private company, it seems like the company has exceeded even its own expectations, as it raised its guidance once again in its most recent report.
With a unique model that combines a restaurant and bar business with arcade games, Dave & Busters may have the capacity to open significantly more than 200 stores. The company has already opened in four new markets this year, including smaller metro areas McAllen, TX and Myrtle Beach, SC, indicating a potentially higher growth ceiling than expected.
While other restaurant chains have struggled recently, D&B's amusements give it a unique attraction and improve its economic model as games are a higher-margin business than restaurants. In its most recent quarter, amusements made up 57% of its revenue, driving an operating margin of 21.1%, up from 19.5% in the quarter the year before. Margins like that would be virtually impossible for a pure-play restaurant business, and they indicate a competitive advantage for Dave & Buster's as well as a reason for investors to be confident in increased profit growth.
Despite the strong earnings beat in the first quarter, analysts haven't adjusted their expectations for the coming quarters. The consensus for the current period is $0.55 per share, just 10% above the result a year ago. That seems like a mistake. Expect Dave & Buster's to keep topping expectations and for the stock to continue chugging higher.