Money Minute: NFL, MLB Back Networks' Aereo Lawsuit; Walmart Workers Win One

A legal battle may make it harder to watch your favorite sports teams.

TV on the Internet (In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., stands next to a serve
Bebeto Matthews/APAereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia stands next to a server array of antennas as he holds an antenna between his fingers.
Forget about seeing your pro football or baseball teams on free, over-the-air television networks. That's the warning from the National Football League and Major League Baseball. They filed Supreme Court briefs to support ABC (DIS), CBS (CBS), NBC (CMCSA) (CMCSK) and Fox (FOX) (FOXA) in their battle with Aereo. That company allows subscribers to stream or record live broadcasts, without the consent of the broadcasters. The pro sports leagues say they could be forced to air their games only on cable channels, if Aereo isn't shut down.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) topped 16,000 for first time Monday, before retreating near the close. It's not unusual for the market to test milestone levels and then slip back. The Dow ended 14 points higher at 15,976, but the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 6 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) lost 37 points.

Score one for workers at Walmart (WMT). The National Labor Relations Board is supporting their charge that the retailer illegally blocked their right to strike and protest. The workers claim the company threatened to fire or discipline them for taking part in the protests.

Apple (AAPL) will have another chance to convince a court to bar rival smartphone maker Samsung from being able to sell certain phones and tablets in the U.S. A federal appeals court said a lower court judge needs to reconsider her ruling in a patent infringement case.

Shares of the luxury carmaker Tesla Motors (TSLA) slid nearly 14 points Monday and have now lost 36 percent in just six weeks. You can see on this chart the big run-up over the past year, before moving into reverse at the end of September. Federal regulators have opened a safety investigation following two battery-related fires.

And this is a big week for retailers. Home Depot (HD) earnings jumped 43 percent and the company raised its forecast for the full year. Best Buy (BBY), Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) and TJX Cos. (TJX) also report Tuesday morning.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

5 Less-Known Restaurant Chains You Should Eat At and Invest In
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Money Minute: NFL, MLB Back Networks' Aereo Lawsuit; Walmart Workers Win One

If investors are hungry for something a little more exciting, thankfully there's no shortage of faster growing publicly traded restaurant chains that are doing just fine.

So sorry, Olive Garden. You may still offer tasty breadsticks, but that's not the kind of rising dough that investors -- and diners -- crave these days.

One of this summer's hottest IPOs was for Noodles & Company (NDLS), a fast casual restaurant chain that specializes in all types of noodles. Olive Garden bashers will find plenty of Italian pastas on the menu, but diners can also be globetrotters by checking out Asian noodle bowls or come closer to home with the classic Americana comfort food of mac and cheese.

Unlike the many table service restaurants facing an alarming number of empty tables, Noodles & Company has delivered positive comps in 29 of the past 30 quarters. Revenue climbed 17 percent to $300.4 million last year, and it's on pace for similar growth through the first half of this year.  

Ignite Restaurant Group (IRG) owns and operates 134 Joe's Crab Shacks and 16 Brick House Tavern + Taps. The operator essentially doubled in size in April when it acquired smaller Olive Garden rival Romano's Macaroni Grill. The 186-unit Italian casual dining chain was once owned by Brinker, and it's a work in progress. Comps were positive at Ignite's two original concepts in its latest quarter, but the same can't be said for Macaroni Grill.

Then again, the sluggish performance at Macaroni Grill also led to an attractive acquisition price. With Macaroni Grill butting pasta bowls with Olive Garden and Joe's Crab Shack fishing against Red Lobster, we can possibly call Ignite a mini Darden. That's a good thing, especially since Ignite has a lot of room for any of its three concepts to grow before it saturates the market.

Casual dining and Mexican don't mix well over time. There's probably a shuttered El Torito, Chi Chi's or Chevy's somewhere near you.

However, Chuy's (CHUY) has raised the bar by creating a lively environment filled with Elvis shrines and customer-submitted dog photos, and it's winning over patrons with its extensive happy hour specials and a bargain-minded menu where nearly every entree costs less than $10.

Chuy's sales surged 23 percent in its latest quarter, and with just 45 locations across twelve states, there are still plenty more places for pooch snapshots and Elvis busts to go up.
As one of the largest franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD), Diversified's (BAGR) largest concept is no stranger to most sports bar enthusiasts. However, the reason that Diversified makes the cut is because it's in the process of rapidly expanding its proprietary Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern.

There were just 13 of the full-service, ultra-casual restaurant and bar units open by the end of June, but Diversified is hoping to open another six locations later this year. It may soon rival the nearly three dozen Buffalo Wild Wings eateries that it currently watches over. The genius here is that it's probably putting a lot of what it learned at Buffalo Wild Wings into practice at Bagger Dave's.

Revenue soared 61 percent in its latest quarter, propelled almost entirely by new restaurants, but there was still a healthy 7 percent spike in same-store sales during the period. 
Customers looking to trade up from fast food without shelling out more in time and money at a casual dining concept are flocking to fast casual chains that deliver quality ethnic dishes quickly.

Fiesta (FRGI) owns and operates 96 Pollo Tropical restaurants (primarily in South Florida) and 164 Taco Cabana eateries (mostly in Texas). The company also has dozens of franchised locations, especially overseas, as its Latin American-inspired Pollo Tropical rotisserie chicken has proven to be a potent export.

Revenue climbed 9 percent in its latest quarter, fueled by a healthy 6 percent spike in same-restaurant sales at Pollo Tropical.
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