Dave & Buster's Entertainment (PLAY) - Get Report doesn't play the way casual dining chains play. Defying the near-recession that has closeted sectors of the restaurant business, the stock of Dave & Buster's leapt to a record after the "eatertainment" chain reported quarterly results that nearly doubled Wall Street's estimates.
The stock of Dave & Buster's has soared to $56.28, a rise of $8.28, or 17%, in Wednesday's midday trading as investors herald the restaurant chain's fiscal third quarter results. The figures were highlighted by a rise in same store sales comparisons of 6%.
The stock is trading for the most it's commanded since its October 2014 initial public offering, when it debuted at $16 a share, after some failed attempts to reemerge as a public company under private equity ownership. Wednesday's action would be a source of comfort for Oak Hill Capital Partners, which bought the restaurant operation in 2010 for $570 million. Its enterprise value coming into Wednesday's session: $2.6 billion.
Dallas-based Dave & Buster's undertook a number of initiatives in the Oct. 30 ending quarter to goose its sales, including a "Summer of Games" customer incentive package and an all you can eat chicken wings promotion at the start of football season. Accommodating weather in much of the country during the period also helped drive traffic. But analysts weren't short-shrifting management's stewardship of the business. In a note today after Tuesday's release of results, Jefferies, one of the lead investment bankers for the company, said its "results underscore broad-based strength of this brand as a unique entertainment/dining destination."
Dave & Buster's reported fiscal third quarter EPS of 25 cents, versus forecasts of 13 cents. Revenue came in at $228 million, 19% ahead of year ago results, and ahead of forecasts of $216 million. Still, the hallmark number was the 5.9% improvement in same store sales, well ahead of the 1% boost in comps that the company recorded for its fiscal second quarter, a tepid showing that sent the stock into a 20% selloff in September.
The company also offered a forecast of year revenues of $998 million to $1 billion, well ahead of forecasts of $862 million. It added that it expected the year's sales comparisons to come in the range of 3.1% to 3.6%, ahead of previous forecasts.
Owing to its unique business model, Dave & Buster's hasn't suffered from the same headwinds as most casual dining concepts, such as food deflation, slowing traffic and an increased promotional environment. The business, though, does have an exposure to one of the bigger financial stress points - rising wages - that afflict most eatery chains. As all 91 of its venues are company owned, the operation is exposed to rising wage pressures in a way that companies with more of a franchising model are not subject to.
Yeah, Dave & Buster's sells hamburgers and chicken wings -- as well as a full menu of entrees, including steak, seafood, pasta and salads - like a number of casual dining chains. Not to mention beer and cocktails. However, it's big offset is its arcade entertainment operations. Just 44% of Dave & Buster's sales comes from its food and beverage operations. The business model is often characterized as a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.