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Sin Stock a Go-Go

By Rick Munarriz - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 7:51PM

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Rick's Cabaret shows that sex sells in a recession.

Rick's Cabaret (NASDAQ:RICK) cut it close last night, posting its fiscal fourth-quarter results just before it would have had to request an extension to its filing deadline. Then again, when you're busy running strip clubs -- and rapidly consolidating within a highly fragmented sector -- it's easy to get distracted.

Rick's results were solid. For all of fiscal 2008, which ended in September, revenue soared 87% to $32.01 million. Earnings grew even faster, surging 151% to $7.7 million or $0.91 a share.

The results are impressive, until you realize that the company isn't breaking down its actual fourth-quarter results in the press release itself. For that you either have to work the math from previous releases or work your way down to the very end of the company's 69-page 10-KSB filing with the SEC.

So how did that fourth quarter turn out? Well, revenue more than doubled, but earnings clocked in at just $0.15 a share. Rick's profit was lower than last year's $0.18-a-share showing and well shy of the $0.23 analysts expected.

Mr. Market isn't going to like the miss, but the stock has already shed 83% of its value this year. The stock is now trading at just five times trailing earnings, and the company remains firmly profitable.

The revenue is clearly inflated by acquisitions and new club openings, but comps rose a healthy 14.6% during the fiscal year.

You can nitpick and wonder about the decline in Internet revenue, but other publicly traded adult entertainment companies like New Frontier Media (NASDAQ:NOOF) and Playboy (NYSE:PLA) are struggling to grow in cyberspace. Besides, this is barely 1% of the revenue mix at Rick's Cabaret. The company's key driver is its chain of high-end strip clubs and they seem to be holding up well in this recessionary environment.

You still need to cherry-pick your sin stocks. Brewer Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) is trading just 7% lower this year, well shy of the S&P 500's 40% plunge. Tobacco giant Altria (NYSE:MO) is also beating the market, with an 8.4% yield to boot.

Adult entertainment stocks like Playboy, New Frontier, and Rick's -- as well as casino operators like MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) -- haven't been so lucky.

However, at these prices, it's hard not to warm up to Rick's Cabaret if it can jiggle through your morality filter. The company's long-term debt may have tripled over the past year, but it's at a manageable level given the company's earnings power.

As long as comps hold up and the company can get its bottom line pointing in the right direction, Rick's Cabaret is unlikely to stay in the single digits for long.

Playboy is a former Rule Breakers pick. Find out what other cutting-edge picks the growth stock newsletter likes with a free 30-day trial subscription offer. It may be free, but it's more than just amateur exhibitionists.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that his first name is the ticker symbol of a strip club operator. No relation. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc.
RICK
$61.76 (0.24%) $0.15
Altria Group, Inc. Stock Quote
Altria Group, Inc.
MO
$44.19 (-0.08%) $0.04
Molson Coors Beverage Company Stock Quote
Molson Coors Beverage Company
TAP
$55.02 (0.69%) $0.38
Wynn Resorts, Limited Stock Quote
Wynn Resorts, Limited
WYNN
$65.73 (-0.24%) $0.16
MGM Resorts International Stock Quote
MGM Resorts International
MGM
$33.92 (-1.67%) $0.57
Playboy Enterprises, Inc. Stock Quote
Playboy Enterprises, Inc.
PLA

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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