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For most of 2016, Dave & Buster’s (PLAY - Free Report) was a standalone success story. During a tough stretch for retail restaurants, this unique brand defied the odds and gained more than 35%. However, that momentum has not continued in 2017, and as we look towards the company’s upcoming second-quarter earnings release, investors are understandably nervous.

Last quarter, Dave & Buster’s was able to post its eleventh-straight earnings beat (the company has never missed estimates since its IPO in late 2014), but its stock has lost about 20% of its value since that report was released.

Investors seem to be primarily concerned with the company’s rapidly decelerating comps growth rate. In the first quarter, Dave & Buster’s recorded comps growth of 2.2%. While that may seem impressive in today’s restaurant industry environment, it’s actually well below the prior-year quarter’s 3.6% growth and the fourth-quarter’s 3.2% increase.

Nevertheless, management did increase the lower end of its full-year revenue guidance, and investors can count on another quarter of solid earnings and revenue growth.

As it stands now, our consensus estimates are calling for profits of $0.54 per share and sales of $280.5 million, which would represent year-over-year growth of 8.3% and 14.8%, respectively. These figures have contributed to the stock’s “A” grade for Growth in our Style Scores system.

Another encouraging sign ahead of the company’s upcoming earnings report is its positive Earnings ESP. The Zacks Earnings ESP (Expected Surprise Prediction) looks to find earnings surprises by focusing on the most recent analyst revisions.

This is done because, generally speaking, if an analyst reevaluates their earnings estimate right before an earnings release, it means that they have fresh information which could potentially be more accurate than what analysts thought about a company two or three months ago.

Dave & Buster’s currently sports an Earnings ESP of +2.15%, and because the stock is also a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), we can feel more optimistic about the chances of a beat this quarter.

However, as we noted, Dave & Buster’s beat earnings estimates in its last report, and that result didn’t seem to help the stock at all. One thing to note here is that at its current price of around $58 per share, PLAY is right around the middle of its 52-week high/low range, which means it could have room to break either higher or lower based on the results of its report.

It’s also worth mentioning that the company’s “Retail – Restaurants” industry is currently in the bottom 12% of the Zacks Industry Rank. So far, 15 out of 45 companies in this category have missed estimates this quarter, and we’ve seen 13 negative estimate revisions for companies in this industry. It goes without saying that this recent performance does not spell well for the conditions of this market right now.

Regardless, Dave & Buster’s has proven before that it can defy industry trends. And given that the company is known for its unique arcade-restaurants, logic might imply that other conditions could be playing a factor here.

Nevertheless, the key will be comps growth, and investors should only expect Dave & Buster’s stock to get back on track if the company can restore its impressive comps growth rate.

Dave & Buster’s is expected to report its second-quarter earnings results on September 5.

Want more stock market analysis from this author? Make sure to follow @Ryan_McQueeney on Twitter!

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