GLENDALE, Calif. (TheStreet) -- DineEquity (DIN) - Get Dine Brands Global, Inc. Report agreed to sell 17 company-operated Applebee's restaurants as part of its ongoing effort to turn around the bar-and-grill chain through refranchising and other methods.

DineEquity, the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurant chains, said Thursday it would sell the 17 restaurants in the mid-South region to Apple Investors Group for $15.9 million.

Apple Investors already own and operate 27 Applebee's restaurants in New Mexico and Virginia.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, reducing DineEquity's sale-leaseback-related financing obligations by $11.3 million.

DineEquity already has sold 259 Applebee's restaurants after acquiring the chain in 2007.

In August, DineEquity posted weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings of $348,000, down 97.5% year over year, as IHOP restaurant sales dragged, overshadowing its Applebee's turnaround. Revenue fell 21.1% to $268.3 million, also missing expectations.

Investors were pleased with DineEquity's news of the Applebee's sale, and bid the stock up 4.3% to $42.96 in afternoon trading Thursday. Still, the stock remains nearly 14% lower this year.

>> Consumer Stock Takeovers: Deals and Targets

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Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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