It's been a tough month for shareholders of CBRL Group
Are things really so bad?
Earlier this month, the firm reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle race discrimination charges, which the firm denies. It will save the firm costly litigation. So the company has that going for it, which is nice.
And recent numbers show an increase in both revenues and earnings. For its third quarter of fiscal 2004, sales were up 11% to $584 million, while earnings reached $0.52 per share, up 13%. Senor Street was looking for a penny more, but was that enough to send investors scurrying for the screen door?
Maybe it was lagging same-store sales? Cracker Barrel's comps were up 4.9% and Logan's were up 7.3%, but early fourth-quarter sales show a slowdown, with negative 1.5% at the flagship stores, and a slimmer, 4.5% gain for Logan's.
Bingo. This must be the spooky face that shocked investors. After all, slimming sales are not an industry-wide problem. Just check out Applebee's
Meanwhile, anemic results seem to be par for the course for country-flavored food chains. Bob Evans Farms
In response to the downhill run in sales, CBRL's management gave a pretty wishy-washy assessment of its future prospects, saying it could neither "confirm" nor update previous guidance. The noncommittal response from the brass is enough reason for Fools to take a wait-and-see attitude with this one.
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