Shares of Cheesecake Factory
Cheesecake released preliminary revenue numbers for its fiscal 2006 third quarter. Total sales increased about 11% to $325 million, while same-store sales fell 1.6%. That consisted of a 2.1% comparable decrease at the namesake concept and an impressive 6.7% gain at the newer Grand Luxe Cafe concept. Fools may recall that last quarter, comps fell 1.2% at Cheesecake and grew 5.5% at Grand Luxe.
The Cheesecake Factory concept is still growing, but the Grand Luxe Cafe franchise is intended to keep total company growth chugging along in the double digits. As of the sales press release, there were 110 namesake stores and only eight Grand Luxe stores. Total sales and earnings growth has averaged an impressive 20% or more annually over the past five years, and operating cash flow has grown close to 30%.
The recent weakness in the stock was due to the fact that the preliminary sales numbers were below analyst projections for the quarter, and the company is in the midst of reviewing potential stock-option backdating issues. Other skeptics point to the fact that the namesake stores operate near their full capacity during the high-traffic weekends and other peak times, making it hard for comps to advance much further at existing stores.
In any case, the stock almost reached $40 back in February, then fell precipitously to just less than $22 in early August as sales concerns and overall market malaise got the best of the stock chart. Since then, the stock has recovered to a recent $27.22. The forward P/E of 22 is still well above the market average, but is close to the lowest level CAKE has traded at over the past five years.
The restaurant space is extremely competitive, and consumer tastes are as fickle there as in the retailing industry, where a popular concept today can be shunned tomorrow -- just check out the comps at OSI Restaurant Partners'
Given the impressive operating cash flow generation, solid track record, and continued growth potential at Cheesecake Factory, if Fools believe the future will turn out to be similar to past results, now may not be a bad time to consider sitting down for some cheesecake. The concept has proven durable for a number of years.
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of McDonald's, but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.