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An Appetite For Restaurant IPOs

Dave & Buster's filed in November to return to the public eye after being taken private in 2006. During that time, management cut costs and streamlined operations. The chain is planning on opening three stores in 2012 and six in 2013. I had my son's birthday party in a Dave & Buster's recently and the place was packed.

The only thing that concerns me with this filing is that the accounting is difficult to understand. There are several columns with date variations and references to the predecessor and successor versions of the company. The company has had a recent history of net losses, most recently $7.3 million in 2011 and $350,000 in 2010. It may have name recognition, but it's the weakest performer of the soon-to-be-public eateries.

Del Frisco's is home to Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Sullivan's Steakhouse and Del Frisco's Grille. It's a high-end restaurant concept, whose average check is $100. The Grille restaurants are smaller in size and more casual, while Sullivan's is a more contemporary version of the flagship Del Frisco's. It earned $201 million in 2011, representing a 21% growth in revenue and an 11% growth in sales. The chain plans to open three to five stores annually.

Where the Next Boom Is Coming From >>

The company originally filed back in 2007, only to withdraw the request in 2008. It filed for this offering in January, but so far no more details have emerged. It competes with Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (RUTH - Get Report), whose stock is up 36% for the past year and Morton's Steakhouse, which was bought by Tilman Fertitta for $116 million in February, a 33% premium. So, the market seems primed for steak stocks.

Restaurant stocks historically have done well, particularly those with strong brand recognition and a history of performance. Research can also be fun. Eat out. Sample the goods. It's not fattening. It's due diligence.

--Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Debra Borchardt.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/wallandbroad.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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