Buffalo Wild Wings: Mild, but Still Tasty

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Buffalo Wild Wings' (NAS: BWLD) second-quarter results weren't so wild either way. However, its investors should still breathe a sigh of relief when comparing the wing-slinging chain to its lackluster restaurant peers.

Second-quarter net income grew 16.4%, to $10.7 million, or $0.58 per share. Buffalo Wild Wings' total sales rose an impressive 26.4%, to $184.1 million. Same-store sales increased 5.9% at company-owned stores and 2.7% at franchised locations.

Buffalo Wild Wings' missed analysts' expectations by $0.02 per share, but let's face it: The company's hanging in there pretty darn well, relative to a selection of other casual dining chains.

Take Ruby Tuesday (NYS: RT) , which plunged last week after reporting an uninspiring quarter marred by rising costs. P.F. Chang's China Bistro (NAS: PFCB) shares also dropped yesterday, after the company reported a 2.5% decrease in same-store sales at its core concept, and a 2.7% fall in Pei Wei Diners' comps. Rising costs and dwindling customer traffic make bad combinations for restaurant operators right now.

The dining industry faces its share of negative headwinds as the U.S. economy's growth slows. Huge companies like Cisco (NAS: CSCO) , Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) , and Lockheed Martin (NYS: LMT) are laying off thousands of workers. As more Americans join the ranks of the unemployed, eating out will likely be the first line item they cut from their budgets.

A reasonably priced stock stalwart like McDonald's (NYS: MCD) feels like a good defensive play now. But in fairness, Buffalo Wild Wings is holding its own very well, given the unappetizing macroeconomic circumstances. Although the company's forward price-to-earnings ratio of 20 seems a bit pricey for its segment, investors should take comfort in its continued ability to lure customers through the door for beer and wings. The growth it's drumming up merits at least a slight premium.

Put Buffalo Wild Wings on your watch list.

At the time this article was published

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