Earlier this year, Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RI) announced the addition of new items to its menu. But if investors were hoping for fresh flavor to contrast with the blandness served up in its last quarterly results, they'll be disappointed to find more of the same in the recently released third-quarter figures.

For the period, total operating revenue nudged forward by 6.7% compared with the same quarter a year ago, to $289.2 million. Same-store sales declined 8%, as the company placed part of the blame on tough weather conditions.

As bland as its sales numbers were, they taste better than the stale earnings. Net income came in at $27.6 million (or $0.42 per share), a 15% decline from a year ago, while operating margins fell to 14.6% for the quarter, a 23% drop year over year.

The company's forecast for the fourth quarter was no appetizer, either. Ruby Tuesday now expects to earn $0.40 to $0.43 per share, vs. the previous estimate of $0.43 to $0.47. The downward revision reduces anticipated earnings for fiscal 2005 to around $1.50 per share.

At that level, Ruby Tuesday's stock bears a hefty premium while trading at 16.4 times current-year earnings. For value investors, this price will induce sticker shock, especially considering that this is an enterprise with sales up a meager 6.4% and net income down 8.8% (both figures year-to-date). For a concept that lacks distinctness from the likes of Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB), O'Charley's (NASDAQ:CHUX), or Brinker International's (NYSE:EAT) Chili's, to name a few, finding a quick solution to the company's weak revenue growth will be pretty difficult.

Prospective investors looking to take a nibble of this stock should look for a deep discount to offer a margin of protection.

Check out these articles on Ruby Tuesday for further reading:

Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.