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Bear of the Day: Brinker International (EAT)


Based in Dallas, TX, Brinker International (EAT) is a restaurant holding company that owns and operates casual dining establishments like Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy.

How the Coronavirus Crisis is Impacting EAT

Like many restaurant stocks, Brinker plunged hard and fast during the initial coronavirus sell-off, and shares are down more than 44% year-to-date.

Brinker International, Inc. Price and Consensus

However, its recent third-quarter report shows that things are gradually moving in the right direction. Earnings and revenue managed to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate, but comparable store sales were pretty dismal, especially for April.

During the month, total comps fell 64.6%, 59.7%, 53.1% and 46.8%, respectively, on a weekly basis, though each week improved upon the previous.

For the quarter, Chili’s comps ended down 5.3% and Maggiano’s sales fell 9.9%.

Additionally, Moody’s announced the completion of a periodic review of Brinker’s business earlier this month. Its credit rating has now slipped to junk status, something investors will want to keep an eye on.

The ratings agency said that the company’s negative free cash flow during the pandemic resulted in a weak liquidity rating, and the pandemic has the potential to have a sustained impact on Brinker; consumers may still be reluctant to spend their money despite restaurants and other non-essential businesses opening back up.

Bottom Line

EAT is now a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). Eight analysts have cut their full year earnings outlook over the past 60 days, and the consensus estimate has fallen from $4.22 to $1.09 a share; earnings are expected to fall over 72% for the fiscal year.

For nearly all economic sectors, the real damage from the coronavirus is still uncertain.

Brinker’s future revenue, earnings, and cash flow are still up-in-the-air, and even though states are beginning to reopen, these key metrics can’t be determined until the length of the outbreak is figured out. It’s probably best to avoid restaurant stocks like EAT for the time being.

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