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Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. Continues to Serve Up the Fun Customers Want

By Brian Stoffel - Apr 4, 2016 at 5:30PM

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Impressive comps highlight a winning concept.

Image source: Dave & Buster's.

If you've never been to a Dave & Buster's (PLAY 2.84%) location, just remember all of your fondest memories from Chuck E. Cheese's. Now back out the fact that, as an adult, you'd never want to go there again -- and that you'd like far more options in terms of food, along with some alcoholic beverages to wash it all down. With an environment that also welcomes kids. 

That's basically what you get with Dave & Buster's. And based on the company's results last week, the concept is resonating with customers. Let's take a look at how it all broke down.

First, just the numbers
Here's how Dave & Buster's performed:

  • Revenue in the fourth quarter was up 13.1% to $234 million.
  • Non-GAAP EPS was up 60% to $1.39.
  • Comparable-store sales (comps) were up 6%.

To get a better idea for the overall trends in the business, here's a look at all three metrics since the company went public in late 2014.

What's really impressive is how the company has been able to leverage its network to increase profitability. For instance, a 13% jump in revenue this past quarter led to earnings growth of over 60%!

CEO Steve King, highlighting the company's impressive 6% comps growth, which came on the back of 10.5% growth for the same quarter last year, said that the "primary driver was walk-in-sales, which grew at 6.9%, while [the] special events business increased 1.8%."

It's also worth noting that comps could have come in as high as 7.1% had it not been for significant snowstorms during the previous quarter. King said that, "because of Winter Storm Jonas ... we closed 10 stores, a couple of which we closed for more than a day. But overall, we had 18 stores that were significantly impacted." While I'm not fan of blaming it on the weather, that type of specificity lends credence to such claims.

The company's e-ticket redemption system -- primarily used for arcade games -- has also been widely adopted. King said, "The opt-in rate for guests is over 90% and since completing the conversion early in the third quarter, amusement satisfaction scores remained quite strong." That has translated into a 250-basis-point improvement in cost of sales.

Looking ahead
There were a grand total of 81 Dave & Buster's locations at the end of the company's fiscal year. By next year, the company plans to have 90 stores in operation. That's still less than half of the 200 stores that management believes that it can eventually open domestically. Management also believes that the first internationally licensed location will open in the Middle East in 2017.

This, along with the company's impressive comps, help explain why the stock is trading for a somewhat-pricey 27 times trailing non-GAAP earnings.

Management laid out the following metrics for the year ahead:

  • Midpoint revenue of $977 million, showing growth of 12.7%.
  • Midpoint EPS of $1.77, showing 21% growth.
  • Comps of between 2% and 4%.

While certainly solid, the expected slowdown in comps might be showing up earlier in the growth process than some investors were hoping for. That will be something for investors to keep an eye on.

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