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Restaurant Companies Deliver Results

Stocks in this article: DENN BLMN DPZ DFRG

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tuesday was a good day in restaurant land. A number of companies reported quarterly results, and all of them exceeded consensus estimates for both revenue and earnings.

The restaurant sector continues to perform quite well; a basket of 33 names that I follow is up an average of 23.5% year to date, more than 1,100 basis points better than the S&P 500.

The restaurant sector has turned in a couple of years of blistering performance, but now many observers fear a slowdown caused by rising commodity costs.

Although some prices have risen, they haven't been sufficient to keep the the consumer away for the most part, and even in a still-challenged economy, eating outside the home appears to be one of our nation's greatest pastimes.

On Tuesday, Denny's (DENN), Bloomin Brands (BLMN), Del Frisco's (DFRG) and Domino's Pizza (DPZ) all reported first-quarter results; you could not find a more diverse set of restaurant names.

Denny's, the back-from-bankruptcy work in progress, continues to move the ball forward. The company reported EPS of 8 cents, a penny better than the 7-cent consensus. Actual revenue of $114.5 million topped the consensus estimate of $112.7 million.

The company continues to whittle away at what was once substantial debt. It's also buying back shares. If there was any negative news, it was that same-store sales were down 0.7% vs. last year. Still, the comeback continues. I closed my Denny's position late in 2012 after a very nice run and left some money on the table. It's nice to see that the company at last has a positive book value per share (2 cents), as small as that may be.

DENN Chart DENN data by YCharts

Meanwhile, Domino's continues to deliver, beating consensus estimates of 55 cents by 4 cents. This name has taken the industry by storm ever since a brilliant advertising campaign a few years ago where the company admitted that it's pizza recipe was not as good as it could be, and changed the formula. Shares are up more than fivefold since 2010. DPZ Chart DPZ data by YCharts

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