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Brinker (EAT) Up 84% in 3 Months: What's Driving the Stock?

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant industry has gained 14.9% in the past three months, compared with the S&P 500 rally of 10.9%. Meanwhile, Brinker International, Inc. (EAT - Free Report) , which belongs to the same industry, has gained 83.8% year to date. We believe there is still momentum left in this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock as it has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 11.4%.

Moreover, an upward revision in earnings estimates for fiscal 2021 reflects analysts’ confidence in the company’s potential. Over the past 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for its earnings in fiscal 2021 has moved up 61.5% to $1.97.

Let’s delve deeper and analyze the factors that have kept Brinker ahead of the curve.

Key Catalysts

Brinker is investing heavily in technology-driven initiatives, like online ordering, to augment sales and boost guest services. Having installed a tabletop technology at all the company-owned restaurants in partnership with Ziosk, the company has now implemented handheld devices in all of California. This is resulting in increased efficiency and speed. During second-quarter fiscal 2020, the company replaced existing tabletop system with a more advanced system to enhance guest experience and efficiency of the model.

In the first half of fiscal 2020, Maggiano’s started testing electronic check presenters that facilitate pay at the table option, which not only provides convenience and efficiency to guests but also increases digital guest engagement. Maggiano’s also entered into an exclusive partnership with DoorDash to create a more affordable rate structure, making third-party delivery more sustainable and efficient. During the fiscal second quarter 2020, guests were provided the option of online ordering directly through Maggiano’s website apart from the DoorDash platforms.

Brinker is one of the few fast-casual restaurant chains that have been expanding despite a sluggish economic development. Management is gearing up for international expansion as well, especially in the faster growing emerging markets. Notably, the company is on the lookout to expand brand in existing markets and enter new ones. In fiscal 2018, 2019 and 2020, the company had opened 34, 23 and 31 restaurants globally, respectively. Nonetheless, the company anticipates opening 15-20 restaurants in fiscal 2021.

The company is steadfast in its goal to drive traffic and revenues through a range of sales-building initiatives such as streamlining of menu and its innovation, strengthening its value proposition, better food presentation, advertising campaigns, kitchen system optimization and introduction of better service platform.

Over the past few quarters, Brinker’s remodeling efforts have gained momentum leading to improvement in sales. Notably, the company continues to invest in its reimage program. In fact, the company continues to invest in a brand-wide reimage program that will drive traffic and comps over the next three years. Brinker’s remodeling initiative is thus expected to continue to invigorate its potential as a brand and improve guests’ experience.

Other Stocks to Consider

Some other top-ranked stocks that warrant a look in the same space include Jack in the Box Inc. (JACK - Free Report) , Papa John's International, Inc. (PZZA - Free Report) and El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (LOCO - Free Report) . While Papa John's sports a Zacks Rank #1, Jack in the Box and El Pollo Loco carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Papa John's has a three-five year earnings per share growth rate of 8%.

Jack in the Box 2021 earnings are expected to surge 17.7%.

El Pollo Loco has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 94.1%, on average.

These Stocks Are Poised to Soar Past the Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted consumer behavior dramatically, and a handful of high-tech companies have stepped up to keep America running. Right now, investors in these companies have a shot at serious profits. For example, Zoom jumped 108.5% in less than 4 months while most other stocks were sinking.

Our research shows that 5 cutting-edge stocks could skyrocket from the exponential increase in demand for “stay at home” technologies. This could be one of the biggest buying opportunities of this decade, especially for those who get in early.

See the 5 high-tech stocks now>>

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