Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) may not be a familiar name to the casual investor, but like competitor Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), its restaurants are fairly well-known. Brinker operates Chili's Grill & Bar, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Maggiano's Little Italy, and On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina in locations across the country. On Thursday, it reported fiscal 2006 fourth-quarter and full-year results.

Revenue for the quarter grew 7.5% to $1.07 billion, while sales for the fiscal year grew 10.7% to about $4.15 billion. Earnings grew even more quickly, by 46.7% for the fourth quarter and 32.6% for the fiscal year. (That's before accounting for gains from asset sales this year, and restructuring charges last year.) Thank strict control of gross margins for part of the increase; the costs of sales and restaurant operations grew much more slowly than revenues.

Since 1997, Brinker's stock has been a steady performer. From a low of about $7.33 (split-adjusted) in early 1997 to the current price near $35.65, the return has been about 18% per year. The 1.3% dividend yield, while not great, is in line with competitors such as Darden and Applebee's (NASDAQ:APPB).

With all that praise, you'd think there'd be nothing to worry about. Not so fast. As fellow Fool Jeremy MacNealy pointed out in his second-quarter review last January, general and administrative (G&A) expenses grew 10.9%, exactly as fast as revenues. That was a bit disconcerting, since the increase came mostly from performance-based incentives and equity-based compensation. For the just-completed quarter, G&A expenses jumped by 28.7%, while for the year overall, they grew an alarming 35.2%. According to the earnings release, the quarter's jump was "primarily driven by performance-based compensation that was not paid in the prior year and incremental equity-based compensation in fiscal 2006." These costs are definitely worth watching.

Despite that, Brinker sports a newly updated trailing P/E of 15.1, improving margins, and double-digit earnings growth. At the current price, I'd be tempted to sample the shares.

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Fool contributor Jim Mueller remembers his last visit to Chili's as being very loud, but wishes he had bought shares back then. He does not own shares in any company mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.