What happened

Bloomin' Brands (BLMN 0.10%) stock declined on Tuesday, falling 11% by 11 a.m EDT. The restaurant chain announced solid third-quarter earnings that nonetheless failed to impress Wall Street.

A server delivers food to a table.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Sales for the three-month period that ended in late September rose to just over $1 billion, compared to $771 million a year ago. That boost translates into a 31% spike year over year. The news was just as good for the owner of the Outback Steakhouse chain when you compare the results with a more normal operating environment.

Comparable-store sales were up 6% at Outback, compared to 2019, and rose 10% across its U.S. footprint. "Q3 represented another quarter of strong results," CEO David Deno said in a press release, "with significant sales, margin and earnings growth." Bloomin' Brands reported rising profitability as higher prices offset surging costs.

Now what

It wasn't all good news in this report, though. The flagship Outback brand endured slowing growth late in the quarter, management said, due to the combination of COVID-19 concerns and demand pressures from rising prices.

Still, sales are now setting records on a two-year basis, so Bloomin' Brands is emerging from the pandemic with a stronger market-share position. Investors chose to focus on the most recent trends, though, that show gains slowing to a crawl at Outback.

Investors will want to watch for signs that growth isn't completely stalling over the next few months, even as they celebrate the company's firmer sales and profitability.