This is part of The Motley Fool's annual "Stocks for Dad" special (Father's Day is June 15). Check back each day this week for a new idea to help Dad Stock Up for Summer .
Trading at $37.02 as of June 11, 2003
If a juicy steak course wedged between a Bloomin' Onion and a Thunder Down Under sounds good to you, odds are that you know Outback Steakhouse
Granted, with more than 800 locations now, this isn't exactly Florida's best-kept casual dining secret anymore. And, since I've got your attention at this point, while the restaurant only opens for dinner, it does open for lunch during special occasions -- like on Father's Day, Dad.
As a regular for the past 10 years, I have come to appreciate the fresh, bountiful salads, and the amazing baked potatoes that accompany your carnivore cravings. But the consistency isn't just found on the menu. The company has been a steady fiscal performer, too. It earned $1.97 a share last year. The company is looking at $2.34 per share in profits this year. Wall Street is pegging next year's net income showing at $2.64 a share. That kind of predictable growth in the low-teens is a welcome sight during these volatile times.
Sure, it stumbled early in 2001, but it was quick to dust itself off, belt out a "G'day mate" and move on.
Outback isn't a one-trick koala. The company also runs the 130-unit Carrabba's Italian Grill chain along with smaller concepts like Roy's (Hawaiian Fusion) and Fleming's (high-end steakhouse). There also is a lot of potential in the company's casual upscale seafood vehicle, Bonefish Grill. Why? Well, while it's just 22 eateries young, Outback has proven itself soundly in the restaurant space.
How many steakhouse restaurants have come and gone while Outback has grown? When the company acquired the small Carrabba's concept it was able to prove itself in the very fickle turf of casual Italian fare. Why not seafood?
While larger operators like Darden
It's comforting to see Outback yield a four-star rating on epinions.com where the bulk of the knocks tend to focus on the long waits caused by the restaurant's perpetual popularity. The company has actually addressed those concerns by introducing Call Ahead Seating and Curbside Take-Away to simplify the dining process. It's also worth noting that the picky reviewers of the site have given Carrabba's a perfect five-star salute.
But is it too late to buy into the Outback growth story? Obviously it was much more compelling when the chain was young. The stock flourished in the 1990s, splitting four times. But there's plenty to love about Outback these days. Trading at just 14 times next year's profit targets, the multiple is certainly reasonable and in line with Outback's growth rate. The company has also been enhancing shareholder value by buying back stock and issuing quarterly dividends.
Outback is also starting to make some headway overseas. While the company has been developing its international presence for six years, it is now starting to trickle its way to the bottom line. Last year those efforts produced just $0.05 a share in earnings and that will, naturally, continue to grow.
Hungry for more? Outback is cash-rich in a heavily leveraged sector. Its restaurants are money machines; producing enough cash to cover ambitious expansion, share buybacks and a money market trouncing yield with greenery to spare. Simply put, it's a bonzer stock.
Have a happy, yet ultimately Aussie, Father's Day, Dad.
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Rick Aristotle Munarriz remembers when his wife came back from a business trip to Tampa raving about Outback Steakhouse. He bought in shortly after the IPO and sold way too soon. Doh! He hasn't owned the stock in years. Rick's stock holdings can be viewed online, as can the Fool's disclosure policy.
A Stock for Dad represents the opinion of one Fool and should in no way be taken as the opinion of either The Motley Fool, Inc. or the company in question, or as representative of anyone or anything other than that specific Fool's thoughts.