Yesterday was a ruby of a Tuesday for Ruby Tuesday
Ruby Tuesday always seemed to be little more than a "me too" player in casual dining, trumped by the more ubiquitous Applebee's
Ruby Tuesday is an industry leader. Back in November, it launched its Smart Eating initiative that broadened its choices for dieters. From introducing 30 low-carb menu items to replacing frying oil with canola, Ruby Tuesday repositioned itself as a health-conscious alternative just as the Atkins and South Beach diets were taking off. Later this month, the company will become the first casual dining eatery to roll out complete nutritional information on its menus.
So it should come as no surprise that comps are rising. Realizing that healthy grub makes for timely home meals, the company rolled out a "curb-side-to-go" program for takeout orders that now accounts for 6% of total sales. Yes, others like Chili's and Outback Steakhouse
Clearly, these have been good times for restaurants. Last week, W.D. Crotty took a look at some recent traffic gains at chains like Jack in the Box
That puts the high end of the company's earnings guidance at $1.91 in fiscal 2005. At 17 times forward earnings, Ruby Tuesday is trading at about its expected growth rate. That's a relative bargain down Wall Street these days. Smart eating? Bah! It's more like smart investing.
Have you enjoyed Ruby Tuesday's new menu? What other major food chains have hopped on the Atkins-approved bandwagon? All this and more -- in the Low Carb Way of Life discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz will gladly pay you on a Ruby Tuesday for a burger today. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.