After getting tenderized by the market last quarter for a $0.02-per-share earnings miss, Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD) is looking to regain the magic when the company reports fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

While the food and fun at this casual-dining operator remain best-in-class, the stock has been in a bit of a tailspin recently, trading in the mid-20's for the past few months -- down from a high in the mid-40's last summer.

But let's be fair. Nearly every casual-dining restaurant stock is in the doldrums these days. Investors have been shedding the likes of Brinker International (NYSE: EAT), CBRL Group (Nasdaq: CBRL), and Ruby Tuesday (NYSE: RT) faster than you can say, "Check, please." In this type of market, higher-multiple stocks like B-Dubs are bound to hit a few speed bumps.

So, is the party over for Buffalo Wild Wings? Or is the stock simply taking a breather, preparing to roar back?

What Fools say:
Here's how BWLD scores against some of its competitors in CAPS:

Market Cap
(Millions)

Trailing P/E
Ratio

CAPS Rating

Buffalo Wild Wings

$  418

20.7

****

Texas Roadhouse (Nasdaq: TXRH)

$  790

20.3

****

Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI)

$ 3,850

19.7

**

Brinker Int'l

$ 1,830

9.0

**

Ruby Tuesday

$  373

7.2

*

Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on Feb. 10. 

CAPS players rate the stock to outperform by an overwhelming 23 to 1 margin. Skimming players' posts, I see comments on the company like "sustainable growth, self-financed growth," and "zero long-term debt and ... high returns on equity." But there are a lot of CAPS players who simply think Buffalo Wild Wings is a great eatery. Consider this post from smoky77211.

What analysts say:
Wall Street analysts are neutral on B-Dubs, with nine out of 13 analysts rating it a hold. One advises a buy, and three suggest a sell. Over the past year, analysts have downgraded the stock seven times, compared to only two upgrades.

The consensus analyst EPS estimate for the fourth quarter is $0.31, down 20% from $0.39 during last year's blazing fourth quarter. But last year, the company enjoyed a $0.16-per-share boost from an extra week, which happens once every four years for the B-Dub, so on a comparable calendar basis, earnings per share will rise a hefty 35%.

One Fool says:
Another earnings stumble would likely drive the stock lower in the short term. Mr. Market hasn't responded kindly in recent months to surprises. But a longer-term view would suggest that companies with a winning business model are great stocks to own, particularly when financial markets are suffering from indigestion.

I expect casual-dining restaurant stocks are in for a rocky ride for the next six months, so I'm not a buyer of B-Dubs in anticipation of a significant earnings "beat." But I'm keeping a close eye on my favorite picks in the sector. Buffalo Wild Wings is an exceptionally well-managed company that has fine-tuned a winning formula with consumers. Eventually, I expect the stock to regain its former high-flyer status, as the market realizes that nothing in this company's business model has changed fundamentally.

For related Foolishness:

The Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings, which is a Hidden Gems recommendation.

Fool contributor Timothy M. Otte surveys the retail scene from Dallas. He welcomes comments on his articles but doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.