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As Hurricane Irma Gets Stronger, Restaurant Stocks Get Weaker

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Just as millions across the Texas Gulf Coast and Southwest Louisiana continue to pick up the pieces from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, which pounded the region with immense amounts of rain and is blamed for at least 60 deaths, another storm is gathering strength in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Irma, which has intensified into an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm, is heading towards the Caribbean and the United States, with Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, the Southeastern Bahamas, and the state of Florida directly in its path.

According to The Washington Post, hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, while a hurricane watch is in effect for Hispaniola and the southeastern Bahamas.

Irma is now tied for the second-strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic, with winds up to 185 mph. The Post advises that “all of Florida — especially South Florida and the Keys — should be preparing for a major hurricane landfall on Sunday.”

And on Tuesday, local officials have begun urging residents in Florida to evacuate, with Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez saying at a news briefing “This hurricane is far too powerful, poses far too great a threat for us to delay actions any further.”

As Harvey impacted numerous industries here in the U.S., Irma is already doing the same. Shares of cruise line companies, for instance, are already getting slammed, while restaurants that have a large presence in Florida are seeing their stocks plummet as well.

Fiesta Restaurant Group (FRGI - Free Report) , which operates Taco Cabana, closed the day down over 5% on Tuesday, while Ruth’s Hospitality Group (RUTH - Free Report) and Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands Inc. (BLMN - Free Report) were down less than 1% after regular trading closed.  

Canaccord analyst Lynne Collier noted that Fiesta is at the most risk because 37% of its restaurants are located in Florida.

Other restaurant stocks that fell today include BJ’s Restaurants Inc. (BJRI - Free Report) , Olive Garden and Red Lobster Owner Darden Restaurants (DRI - Free Report) , Chili’s owner Brinker International (EAT - Free Report) , Cracker Barrel (CBRL - Free Report) , and The Cheesecake Factory (CAKE - Free Report) .

As Irma swirls closer to Florida, don’t be surprised to see these stocks fall even more.

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