I eat an awful lot of barbecue for a Minnesota boy, and I have always been partial to the grub at Famous Dave's of America
But something's wrong in Dave'sville, and it's not just the ugly and tasteless picture on the firm's home page, featuring the man himself, mouth agape, pretending to gnaw a side of beef.
The company's first-quarter report merely hints at the problems. At a time when nearly everyone else in the food business is putting up great and growing numbers, Dave's is treading water. Revenues were down 1.6% compared with the prior year, and though system-wide sales, which include franchise restaurants, were up 36%, it's tough to get too enthusiastic about money that's not making its way home. Comps at company-owned outposts were down 2.2% as well.
The bottom line looked a bit better, with earnings of $0.04 per share, or double the $0.02 that was produced in the prior-year quarter -- after backing out one-time charges. Was this modest improvement enough to warrant the double that the stock has already scored this year? At $8 per share, Dave's has already gone up 120% from its 52-week low.
To put things in perspective, that $8 per stub is the same territory that the company traded in following its 1996 initial public offering (IPO). The firm has generated earnings in only two of the last nine years, and free cash flow rarely visits, either. Finally, peripatetic founder and No. 1 holder Anderson jumped ship in February to become assistant secretary of Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior.
On a good day, only half a million bucks worth of this stock changes hands, meaning it would be really easy to get scorched. Somebody likes this stock, but I wouldn't touch it with a 12-inch barbecue fork.
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