There always seems to be restaurant news on the menu. As I do every week, let's take a look at some of this week's more appetizing stories.
1. Brinker isn't a sinker or a stinker
A hot restaurant stock? Shares of Brinker International
This doesn't mean the numbers themselves were scorching hot. Revenue fell by 8% during the period, weighed down by a 5.4% slide in comps. Earnings of $0.27 a share fell just shy of the $0.31 a share Brinker rang up a year earlier. The key here is that battered investors were only expecting a profit of $0.18 a share during the fiscal second quarter.
Brinker's stock is trading at a third of where it was two years ago, so a whiff of good news may be all it needs to get the depressed shares inching higher again. Shares are trading at just 11 times this year's earnings, and that's before analysts jack up their profit targets following yesterday morning's respectable showing.
2. A half-dollar menu
McDonald's has hiked its payout every year since 1976, and that's likely to continue given the burger giant's encouraging trends. However, its last boost happened during last year's third quarter, so don't expect higher distributions until later this year.
3. Yes, we're open
Casual dining may be a lost art these days, but it doesn't mean that chains aren't opening up new restaurants. Famous Dave's of America
Sure, many of the more recent industry openings have been planned well ahead of time. Few would have figured that the economy would be in this deep a funk. It's hard to fathom casual-dining chains, on the whole, opening more restaurants than they close in 2009. For now, at least, diners should enjoy the occasional debuts.
4. Is it Olive Lobster or Red Garden?
Is no news good news these days? Darden Restaurants
5. Rolling the burrito
Chipotle Mexican Grill
"Our marketing strategy has not kept pace with developments in our food culture or our unique people culture,” CEO Steve Ells notes in appointing Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners as its new advertising agency.
The quick-service burrito chain has grown to more than 800 units without having to rely on massive marketing campaigns. Having a high-quality product and breakneck efficiency can do wonders for word-of-mouth testimonials. Chipotle is starting to feel the recessionary pinch, though. It has missed Wall Street earnings estimates in two of its past four quarters. Comps are off from their torrid double-digit growth pace during its successful IPO.
As long as Chipotle doesn't have to compromise quality, ramping up its marketing efforts can only help.
Check out this week's dessert specials:
Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is the rare foodie that embraces restaurant chains. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.