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Beer, Seafood Make for Winning Combination

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Chipotle (CMG), a Mexican-restaurant franchise, and salad-and-sandwich purveyor Panera (PNRA) have been good bets, as their fresh and tasty food serve as alternatives to the likes of McDonald's (MCD) and Yum Brands' (YUM) KFC.

Much lesser known is Flanigan's Enterprises (BDL), an owner of restaurants and liquor stores in Florida that has been successful for more than half a century. Flanigan's increased profit and revenue during the recession, which was the worst in 80 years.

During the past three years, Flanigan's has increased revenue 6.2% annually, on average, and boosted earnings per share 8.7% a year. It has a market value of only $12 million.

Fiscal fourth-quarter profit soared 67% to $290,000, or 15 cents a share, as revenue increased 5.6% to $17 million. The operating margin stretched from 1.8% to 3.4%. Return on equity, a key measure of profitability, matched the industry average of 10%. Flanigan's derives the majority of its revenue from seafood restaurants and bars.

Though the company is publicly traded, it has a small-business feel. Its menu, entailing a healthy lineup of local fish such as mahi mahi, is as unpretentious as its business. Seafood and alcohol are a great combination in Florida, the land of Jimmy Buffett.

Its stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.2, a price-to-book ratio of 0.8, a price-to-sales ratio of 0.2 and a price-to-cash-flow ratio of 1.8, reflecting, on average, a 90% discount to the restaurant industry average. As a micro-cap, Flanigan's is susceptible to unique risks, including thin trading volume. Still, its shares trade at fire-sale prices, which is baffling considering the company's record of steady growth.

Investors know that management is on their side. James Flanigan II, the seafood patriarch, owns 20% of shares outstanding while Michael Flanigan and Patrick Flanigan control 11% and 8%, respectively. All three men purchased additional shares during the fourth quarter, a signal of confidence in the long-term prospects of their business. Flanigan's shares have risen 46% during the past year, outperforming stock-market indices.

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