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Restaurant Stocks: Earnings to Watch

Biglari Holdings

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Biglari Holdings (BH) reported fiscal fourth quarter earnings on Dec. 13.

Revenue: $164.4 million, compared with year-earlier sales of $160.4 million.

Net Income: $8.4 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $3.4 million.

Net Earnings Per Share: $6.26, compared with year-earlier EPS of $2.35 per share.

Analysis: In August analysts from CL King reiterated an accumulate rating on Biglari Holdings shares, and raised their price target on the stock by $25 to $375.

The operator of Steak n Shake and Western Sizzlin restaurants said "Steak n Shake had a banner year" with customer traffic up 8.6% in the fourth quarter while same-store sales grew 6.8%.

Western Sizzlin results had a small impact on Biglari's 2010 results since the steak and buffet restaurant chain was acquired partway through the year, on March 30, and therefore only reported its results from the date of acquisition.

Overall top-line results came in shy of expectations for revenue of $172.7 million. Biglari's quarterly profits topped Wall Street's consensus call.

Biglari warned that in 2011 it is unlikely to exceed prior-year profits as it focuses on reinvesting in its infrastructure, training, supply chain and franchising.

In a letter to shareholders, chairman Sardar Biglari addressed the significant changes the company has undergone since he took control just over two years ago. "Simply put, BH is in the business of owning other businesses in whole and in part," he said. " Wholly or majority-owned businesses steer earnings. Those not retained for their growth, upstairs to the parent for reallocation to fuel holding company growth. With this perspective, BH is a liquidity provider."

RealMoney contributor Jonathan Heller wrote in October that Biglari Holdings got a fair amount of attention earlier this year due to actions by Sardar Biglari, including changing the name of the company from The Steak n Shake Company, as well as "Biglari's proposed hedge-fund-like compensation package, which would have rewarded him handsomely but only after the company exceeded a hurdle in per-share book-value growth. Both of these incidents could be used in the "what not to do" section of a public relations textbook."

"Biglari did a good job of turning around both Western Sizzlin and Steak 'n Shake," Heller wrote. "Now, with the firm's new structure as a holding company, Biglari is more of a capital allocator than restaurateur -- and this is not new to him, given his history in running the Lion Fund."

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