What's the Italian word for pit? Oh yeah, it's buca, as in Buca
Back down the hole is also a pretty accurate summary of investor response to the firm's recent first-quarter earnings report.
Sales were up 6.6% over the period last year, but comps were down yet again at both chains, and higher expenses just about everywhere turned the $66.5 million in revenues into a loss of $0.08 per share. Mamma mia!
Things already looked cattivo (that's Italian for bad) when Fool food aficionado Rick Aristotle Munarriz took a peek at the company back in February. The Atkins thing -- the excuse del giorno for every under-performing food operation -- was getting the blame for stinking comps.
Shortly thereafter, the firm raised some much-needed cash through a $17 million private placement. The firm is also trying to peddle its food as low-carb, and has expanded its selection of smaller-portion menu items. That's not the only downsizing, of course. The firm already had embarked upon a big trim of its expansion policy.
The balance sheets are a bit overripe for my taste, with $1.9 million in cash vs. $8.6 million in long-term debt and leases. Investors would be wise to wonder how long this can go on. Maybe, just maybe, there's no way out of this hole.
The problem is clearly not just Italian food. Maybe it's the concept. Listen, I love kitschy supper clubs, the kind of places that are purportedly being parodied by Buca's restaurants. But how much irony can a person stomach?
The real lesson here is the risk of specialization in the restaurant biz. As Rick Munarriz pointed out, Darden Restaurants
Investors take heed. There's little going right here, and millions of reasons to stay away -- most of it roosting under the liabilities section of the balance sheets.
Learn how to put the hurt on your favorite pasta joint or find alternative eats on the Fool's Low Carb Way of Life board.