Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: IHOP operator DineEquity (NYSE: DIN) got scraped into the refuse bin this morning, dropping 16% as trading winds down for the day.

So what: IHOP sales are looking to come in at the low end of forecast numbers -- suggesting a 2% decline in same-store sales this year (versus Applebee's results that are trending toward 4% growth). Weak results at IHOP contributed to DineEquity as a whole as revenues slipped in Q2 and profits fell $0.02 short of Wall Street estimates.

Now what: Unprofitable, debt-laden, and now the recipient of an earnings miss, DineEquity shares aren't likely to appeal to stock shoppers any time soon -- but maybe they should. Look behind the kitchen doors, and you may be surprised to see how much cash this business is cooking up.

Free cash flow for the past 12 months approached $175 million, much better than the net loss shown on DineEquity's income statement. At its current $825 million market cap, these shares are priced at less than 5 times annual free cash flow -- not bad for a company that most analysts still expect to grow at 11% per year going forward. If management continues to make progress paying down its debt, DineEquity shares could turn out to be quite tasty.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.