It's been feast or famine with the steakhouse chains this week. First it was Morton's
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, along came Texas Roadhouse
If you came into this trading week hungry for direction on fickle eatery stocks, you won't get it from two companies heading in different directions.
Morton's performance doesn't look so bad on the top line. Revenues grew by 13% to $78.9 million. Its four Italian eateries continue to struggle, although its bread-and-butter, upscale steakhouse concept -- now at 76 units and counting -- posted a healthy 7.3% spike in quarterly comps.
The problem at Morton's is the bottom line, where the company posted a loss of $0.04 a share. It's the first quarterly loss at the company in nearly two years, although analysts were expecting it. The rub is in the current quarter. Morton's wants to post a profit of $0.46 a share to $0.48 a share during its seasonally strongest quarter. Wall Street was projecting a profit of $0.51 a share, but has now lowered expectations to $0.47.
There were no unpleasant surprises a few hours later when Texas Roadhouse reported. The 275-unit steakhouse chain grew its net income by 15% compared with last year to $0.14 a share, just ahead of the market's expectations.
You won't see many other steakhouse chains, casual or upscale, shed a little color on the industry. The parent companies behind Lone Star Steakhouse, Outback, Smith & Wollensky, and Longhorn have all cashed out to private equity firms. CBRL Group
So what's left? Ruth's Chris
That sums up the state of the publicly traded steakhouse chains. If you want to push the envelope, you can see what a carnivore concept like Famous Dave's
Private investors have picked the steakhouses bone dry. You're down to three flavors right now, and it would not be a shock if we're down to just two the next time that private equity gets hungry.
Beef up your knowledge on steakhouses:
Outback Steakhouse parent OSI Restaurant Partners was an Inside Value recommendation until it was acquired at a premium this year.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is always on the lookout for a good steakhouse, and he's grateful there are so many in Miami. He owns shares in CBRL Group. 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 rare disclosure policy.