"We expect lower gas prices to boost restaurant sales in 4Q14 and throughout 2015," the Dec. 22 report said.
Morgan Stanley research analysts took a deep dive across the firm's entire North America coverage universe to assess how "a sustained period of lower oil prices" would affect various sectors and stocks.
The Dec. 22 report "highlights stocks for which the effect would be most beneficial, or most challenging," it said. The analysts identified more than 30 industries in which "an extended period of low energy prices would have a material effect," and more than 120 stocks where the effects would be either "especially favorable or unfavorable."
Morgan Stanley estimated consumers would save approximately $75 billion in 2015 if gas prices stayed at current levels. "This would represent a 0.6% increase in disposable income and could boost restaurant sales by 1%," the report said.
Given that gas represents a high proportion of disposable income for low-income consumers, "we expect lower-income consumers to benefit the most, in turn benefiting casual dining chains and QSR [quick-service restaurants] exposed to that consumer," the Dec. 22 report said.
Though not mentioned in the report, burger chain Shake Shack's IPO plans are coming at an opportune time given these trends. Restaurants are one such industry that stands to gain the most from oil's record lows, according to Morgan Stanley (MS) .
Click through to see which restaurant stocks Morgan Stanley likes best based on lower oil.
Texas Roadhouse (TXRH)
Position: Likely beneficiary
Year-to-date return: 21%
Morgan Stanley said: TXRH is among the most exposed among the casual dining companies we cover to lower income consumers. Its all-dinner exposure is also more discretionary.