What happened

BJ's Restaurant (NASDAQ:BJRI) shareholders trounced the market on Thursday as their stock jumped 13% by 3 p.m. ET. The restaurant chain's management team presented at an investor conference during which they expressed optimism about demand trends that clashed with Wall Street's worries about new COVID-19 restrictions.

So what

Executives spoke at the Stephens Annual Investment Conference on Thursday morning and fielded questions about the pandemic and the rise of the Omicron variant that has rattled markets over the past week.

BJ's Restaurants noted no slowdown in the strong demand it enjoyed in the fiscal third quarter, implying solid customer traffic at restaurants over the last few days.

A waiter serves patrons seated at a table.

Image source: Getty Images.

The company said in late October that the Delta variant's rise had slowed the pace of its rebound. As of early December, however, there hasn't been a similar slowdown tied to COVID-19 .

Now what

BJ's next earnings report won't arrive until early February, so it will be some time before investors have a clearer picture of any change in its growth trends. That means volatile price swings are likely as Wall Street updates its assessment of the risks associated with the Omicron variant.

BJ's stock is still trailing the market by a wide margin so far in 2021 even following today's spike. That gap suggests further potential positive spikes on the way if more good news comes to light around economic growth and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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