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5 Restaurant Stocks to Buy Now

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The restaurant sector is poised for moderate growth this earnings season as uncertain economic times leaves consumers keeping a close watch on their limited discretionary funds.

Despite tepid expansion, some analysts remain optimistic for the short-term. "The combination of "still-recovering sales and still-benign costs (both food and labor)" makes for "a positive backdrop to [third quarter of 2010] results," noted Deutsche Bank analyst Jason West.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Steve West said that "easy comps and extensive cost savings should offset strained sales from depressed consumer spending, boosting restaurant [third-quarter 2010 earnings-per-share] growth of 6% (though still less than 10% on average)."

>>Restaurant Stocks: Earnings to Watch

DB's West noted that "combining a fragile recovery and rising food costs with reasonably full valuations, suggests investors need to be selective when picking restaurant stocks." He recently downgraded shares of Burger King Holdings (BKC) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG - Get Report).

>>Sell Burger King Shares Now: Analyst

Here then is a look at analysts' top restaurant stock picks.
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