The story is no doubt getting old for Bob Evans Farms
This isn't a new phenomenon. Many, but not all, casual dining chains are suffering these days: Nathan Slaughter wrote up Brinker's
Whatever's happening, this story has taken its toll on Bob Evans investors. Over the last 12 months the company's shares have underperformed the S&P 500 and, over the last six, undone six months of gains. With management scaling back its fiscal 2005 earnings projections -- even as it hopes new marketing twists will boost same-store sales -- the prognosis seems unlikely to change in the near term.
It's not as though there's no hope in breakfast: Certainly IHOP
It looks like the kind of story that can't help but get on track eventually -- the company is still profitable and well-branded and historically generates handy cash flows. Figuring out the timing, however, is the tricky part. With the company's shares commanding a multiple of 15 times next year's high-end EPS estimate -- which represents a significant pullback from fiscal 2004 numbers -- it's hardly a no-brainer.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.