When I last discussed Ruby Tuesday
The company's fiscal second-quarter results contained good news and not-so-good news. Revenue was up more than 14%, and quarterly same-store sales comps finally turned positive. What's more, management turnover stayed at a reasonable level, basically flat with the first quarter. Nevertheless, utilities and other higher expenses did some damage, and the company reported declines in both operating income and net income.
Management also devoted a fair bit of time to talking about the menu again. The focus on hamburgers continues, and that's fine; the burger is arguably America's national dish. What I found less appealing was the acknowledgement that the menu has "evolved" four times in the last year. After all, some of you may remember the company's relatively recent and highly promoted rollout of a low-carb menu -- just as the Atkins fad was gasping its last.
I don't fault the company for switching out poor-selling offerings; any good restaurateur should. The issue, and I hate to sound like a broken record here, is that this company has no real culinary identity. With McDonald's
The good news, though, is that even in the absence of personality, this company has managed to generate reasonable returns. Should the company ultimately discover, and stick to, a solid food-based identity, this could be an interesting story for the long haul. In the meantime, it's an average restaurant with average performance, average food, and an average valuation -- not exactly the sort of story that gets me salivating.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).