What happened

Shares of Bloomin' Brands (NASDAQ:BLMN) were tumbling 10% lower in midday trading Friday, after the company reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates on the top and bottom line.

So what

This seems to be a case of buy the rumor and sell the news for the owner of the Outback Steakhouse chain, because the restaurant operator said sales were doing better and its quarterly loss was narrower than expected.

Outback Steakhouse restaurant

Image source: Bloomin' Brands.

Bloomin' Brands reported revenue of $771 million compared with forecasts of just $752 million, saying it experienced consistent weekly sales momentum throughout the period. Consumers chose to dine in more often even as it retained 50% of the off-premise incremental volume it achieved when all of its dining rooms were closed.

That led it to notch a net loss of $17.6 million, which is $0.20 per share, or $0.12 per share on an adjusted basis -- far better than the $0.32 per-share loss analysts thought it would post.

Now what

The stock has more than tripled off the lows it hit back in March, so having come so far so fast, even with a better-than-expected earnings report, may have investors taking profits.

Restaurants generally benefited from the warm summer and autumn weather, and now that we're heading into the winter months with indoor seating capacities limited and states mulling new shutdowns, the market may think this is as good as it gets.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.