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Bear of the Day

Consumers have not been kind to the casual dining chains in 2013. Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, Inc. (BBRG - Snapshot Report) recently lowered 2013 guidance due to the competitive market. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) is finding "upscale affordable" to be a hard sell.

Bravo Brio operates two Italian restaurant brands, BRAVO! Cucina Italiana and BRIO Tuscan Grille, in 31 states across the country. BRIO is its bigger concept, with 56 restaurants whereas BRAVO! has 47 restaurants. It also operates one Bon Vie restaurant.

It has a big focus in its home state of Ohio as well as in Florida.

Bravo Brio markets itself as "upscale affordable" but this segment of the restaurant market has been challenging in 2013.

Missed the Zacks Consensus in the Third Quarter

On Nov 5, Bravo Brio reported its third quarter results and missed the Zacks Consensus for the second quarter in a row. Earnings were $0.11 compared to the consensus of $0.14.

While revenue rose 0.4% to $96.3 million, comparable restaurant sales dipped 4.5%.

Both chains were weak, with comparable restaurant sales down 3.7% at BRAVO! and 5.1% at BRIO.

Margins eroded and competition picked up in several of its markets.

Guidance Lowered for 2013

Given the third quarter results and projections for the fourth quarter, Bravo Brio lowered its EPS and revenue guidance for 2013.

Revenue is now expected in the range of $410-$413 million, down from $414-$420 million.

Earnings are forecast to be between $0.78 to $0.81, down significantly from the prior guidance of $0.83 to $0.89.

Bravo Brio will also open 8 restaurants in the year. It provided preliminary guidance for 2014 of between 6 and 7 new openings.

Shares Have Fallen

Shares of Bravo Brio have fallen since the summer but even with the sell off, the company is still trading at 20x forward estimates.

That's more expensive than the S&P 500 at 16.7x.

Investors who REALLY want to be in a restaurant stock might want to consider alternatives to Bravo Brio like Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD - Analyst Report). While it is not immune to the choosy consumer, falling chicken wing prices are helping boost margins.

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Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor of the Turnaround Trader and Value Investor services. You can follow her on twitter at @TraceyRyniec.

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