The economic downturn has made mincemeat out of a lot of restaurant stocks over the last 12 months. In fact, the PowerShares Food & Beverage index -- with the oh-so-appropriate ticker "PBJ" -- is down by more than 11% over the past year.

But that doesn't necessarily make every blue-plate special a worthy investment. Plenty of food and restaurant stocks still trade at excessively high earnings multiples. If this consumer-led downturn gets any worse, you can bet these expensive entrees could spoil a lot more than just your appetite.

With that scrumptious thought in mind, I decided to run a CAPS screen to find food and leisure stocks that are looking expensive right now. Below are seven companies with trailing P/E ratios higher than 20.

They also have:

  • Market caps greater than $200 million.
  • One- or two-star ratings (out of five) from our CAPS community.


CAPS Rating

Share Price

Market Cap (in millions)

P/E Ratio

Burger King (NYSE:BKC)





CKE Restaurants (NYSE:CKR)





P.F. Chang's (NASDAQ:PFCB)





Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA)





The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY)





Wendy's (NYSE:WEN)





Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN)





Source: Motley Fool CAPS Screener, run on 8/5/08.

Remember, since we launched CAPS in late 2006, one-star companies underperformed the S&P 500 by a stomach-churning 11 points, annualized. Two-star companies also sucked it up with an underperformance of five points, annualized.

Keep in mind, just because they look expensive on a P/E basis doesn't mean they're instant salmonella for your portfolio. But do your homework first and make sure you're not overpaying before ordering up some stock.

Looking for more stocks to avoid (or even to view as deep value)? Come hang out with us on Motley Fool CAPS. Let our 110,000-strong (and counting) CAPS community help you make better stock selections.

More Foolishness to digest:

Panera Bread is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt selection.

Matthew Argersinger doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned, but his fiancee thinks he's a pretty good cook. The Fool has a delicious disclosure policy.