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12 Restaurant Stocks at 52-Week Highs

Ruby Tuesday

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Ruby Tuesday (RT)

52-Week High Reached Tuesday: $14

Like DineEquity's Applebee's and Brinker's Chili's, bar-and-grill chain Ruby Tuesday suffers from generally poor fundamentals coming out of the recent recession relative to other restaurants in the casual dining space.

While the segment is doing poorly, stocks were so depressed at the start of 2010 that significant share price percentage gains in the year were, in large part, a simple bounce off serious lows, West said.

West did credit Ruby Tuesday's management with setting low enough expectations that investors didn't expect much. That way when it did beat profit expectations the stock popped.

Like others in the bar-and-grill segment, Ruby Tuesday focused heavily on "extreme discounting" in 2010 as a means of luring customers in the door. That worked well enough -- revenue in its recent fiscal quarter edged slightly higher and comps grew 1.2% -- but the drawback to that strategy is the training of its customer base to only buy when heavy promotions are offered.

That means customers will either wait to dine at Ruby Tuesday until there is a discount, or save up their money and trade up to chains like Cheesecake Factory, West said.

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