Want a bit of useless trivia? Of course you do. Where did Google
How many times over can you buy Denny's with that same $1.65 billion? If you go by the current $500 million market cap, the answer appears to be "three." However, once you tack on the company's $453.3 million in long-term debt, you can really only buy one Denny's. However, you'd have enough left over after that to snap up more than 100 million Grand Slam breakfast meals.
But why are we even kidding ourselves here? We know that Denny's will never see that kind of money. The chain is a great place to hit when money is tight or you're hungry at 3 a.m., but you don't need reservations to square away a table at Denny's.
Low prices aren't just hallmarks of the chain's menu. You have to go back to 1998 to find the last time that its stock traded in the double-digits.
That brings us to last night's earnings report. The stock opened 9% lower this morning, but that had nothing to do with Denny's solid fourth-quarter performance. Comps inched higher. The company reversed a year-ago loss in the period with a slight profit. And it continues to sell off underperforming assets and pay down debt with the proceeds.
The worrisome grease fire here is in the company's near-term outlook. Denny's expects revenues to dip this year. Essentially flat comps and asset sales will do that to your top line. That would be acceptable if operations were set to improve, but Denny's expects adjusted income before taxes to land between breakeven and $10 million for all of 2007.
After the company generated $12.5 million in adjusted income before taxes in 2006, that step back isn't sitting well with investors.
It's hard to make a living serving up cheap eats. Minimum-wage hikes are going to sting. However, other companies that feed the thrifty, like Yum! Brands
I have to applaud Denny's moves to trim back debt and make the most of its real estate strength. However, until it gets its act together, the next time it finds Google sitting down with a dot-com darling, Denny's should see whether the search giant would be up for a two-for-one deal.
For more on Denny's, the deal-maker of the Silicon Valley, check out:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz remembers way too many late-night treks to Denny's when he was young, but he hasn't eaten at one in more than two years. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.