Growth is still on the menu at Texas Roadhouse (NASDAQ:TXRH). Analysts are waking up to that reality after the company posted fourth-quarter earnings of $0.10 a share, or $0.12 a share before stock-based compensation expenses. Wall Street was looking for the company's bottom line to clock in flat with last year's $0.09 per share showing.

Revenue soared 30% higher to $152.6 million, as a result of heady expansion and healthy comps growth. Despite the brisk concept buildout, older locations continue to perform well. In the quarter that ended in December, comps rose 3.3% at company-owned units and 3.5% at franchised restaurants.

The company's emphasis since going public in 2004 has been on company-owned locations and buying back franchised eateries. Even though a third of its existing locations are run by franchisees, that number continues to dwindle. Just 29% of the 2005 openings were franchised locations. That figure dropped to 17% last year and may drop to as low as 6% of the 30-34 locations that Texas Roadhouse will open in 2007.

Having more control over its destiny doesn't come cheap, but it will help the company meet its goal of growing profits by at least 20% a year. Texas Roadhouse accomplished that last year. Earnings before stock-based compensation soared 22% higher in 2006. The company expects to earn at least $0.53 a share this year, also implying at least a 20% bottom-line improvement.

With its 2007 guidance, Texas Roadhouse is trading at less than 27 times forward earnings. That may not seem dirt cheap, but it will be a bargain if the company is able to grow at a 20% clip or better over the next few years.

But will Texas Roadhouse be around in a few years? Over the past few months, Outback Steakhouse parent OSI (NYSE:OSI), Lone Star Steakhouse, and upscale chophouse Smith & Wollensky (NASDAQ:SWRG) have received or accepted buyout solicitations.

Remember Paula Cole's song, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone"? "Where Have All the Steakhouses Gone" is a more appropriate song these days.

Texas Roadhouse does not hail from Texas. To be fair, neither did Lone Star Steakhouse. Texas Roadhouse is from Louisville, Ky. -- which is an eatery hotbed, as it's also the home of Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA) and Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM).

That's okay. We'll keep that our little secret. As for Texas Roadhouse's reasonable selling price given its consistent growth rate? That won't be a secret for too much longer.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz enjoys a good roadhouse every now and then. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.