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Newly public chain Chuy's (CHUY) also reported better-than-expected results, beating estimates on both revenue ($47.9 million versus $43.9 million) and earnings (13 cents versus 12 cents). The Mexican restaurant chain, which went public in July, is up 8% in pre-market trading, and more than 60% since it began trading. CHUY ChartCHUY data by YCharts

Dine Equity (DIN), parent of Applebee's and IHOP, also reported a strong quarter, beating the consensus on revenue ($216.3 million versus $202.6 million), and earnings ($1.03 versus 93 cents). The company has adopted a "re-franchising" strategy, similar to Denny's (DENN), selling company-owned Applebee's restaurants to franchisees, helping to reduce the company's debt load to about $1.2 billion, from $1.8 billion at the end of 2010. DIN ChartDIN data by YCharts

Denny's,) which has staged a remarkable comeback the past several years, barely beat the consensus on revenue ($120.9 million from $120.6 million), but missed badly on earnings (6 cents from 9 cents). On a positive note, the company reduced total debt by about $9 million, and repurchased one million shares during the quarter.

Denny's also opened 12 new units (franchised), and signed a deal to open 10 in Chile. Sometimes it's hard to believe that this older chain, that was bankrupt not all that long ago, is actually growing. I thought I was seeing things on the way to the airport following a mission trip in the Dominican Republic this past summer, but there it was, a huge billboardfor the new Denny's at the Santo Domingo airport, the first in that country. This company seemingly has nine lives. DENN Long Term Debt ChartDENN Long Term Debt data by YCharts

To those who are surveying the damage today and trying to figure out how to move forward, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

At the time of publication the author had a position in DENN.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jonathan Heller, CFA, is president of KEJ Financial Advisors, his fee-only financial planning company. Jon spent 17 years at Bloomberg Financial Markets in various roles, from 1989 until 2005. He ran Bloomberg's Equity Fundamental Research Department from 1994 until 1998, when he assumed responsibility for Bloomberg's Equity Data Research Department. In 2001, he joined Bloomberg's Publishing group as senior markets editor and writer for Bloomberg Personal Finance Magazine, and an associate editor and contributor for Bloomberg Markets Magazine. In 2005, he joined SEI Investments as director of investment communications within SEI's Investment Management Unit.

Jon is also the founder of the Cheap Stocks Web site, a site dedicated to deep-value investing. He has an undergraduate degree from Grove City College and an MBA from Rider University, where he has also served on the adjunct faculty; he is also a CFA charter holder.

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