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Cracker Barrel (CBRL) Stock Rises on Q4 Beat: Are There More Good Times Ahead?

Christopher Vargas

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store CBRL reported its fourth quarter results today before the opening bell. The old-fashioned country store has outpaced the broader food retail market over the last five years with its 63.7% gain. Cracker Barrel is coming off a strong quarter with solid underlying fundamentals, and its latest quarterly performance attests to how it has successfully continued to commercialize the comfortable, casual dining experience. Will the company continue its growth despite younger consumers turning away from the casual full-service restaurant? Let’s take a closer look at the business and how it might perform within the near future.

Overview and Q4 Performance

Cracker Barrel, founded in 1969, is based out of Lebanon, Tennessee, and operates full-service restaurants with a restaurant and retail store within the same unit. The restaurants serve home-style country food such as meatloaf, signature biscuits, and other beloved comfort food. The retail stores offer unique gifts, various self-indulgences, and a line of seasonal products.

The company operates through two restaurant brands: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Holler & Dash Biscuit House. Cracker Barrel recently invested $140 million for a non-controlling stake in the new social dining concept Punch Bowl Social. Punch Bowl offers made-from-scratch food and craft beverages in a gaming environment to a prominently millennial and Gen Z crowd.

In Q4, Cracker Barrel reported $787.1 million in revenue, beating our estimate by 1.64%; its bottom line of $2.70 per share beat our estimate by 11.11%. Restaurant revenue came in at $650.1 million, jumping 5.38% from the year ago quarter. Retail sales hit $137 million for a 1.02% hike. Cracker Barrel’s comparable store restaurant sales of 3.8% and traffic growth of 0.2% outperformed the casual dining industry. Comparable store retail sales came in at 0.4% for Q4.

Company Outlook

The restaurant giant gave fiscal 2020 revenue guidance of $3.15-$3.20 billion, which is higher than our consensus revenue estimate of $3.14 billion. The business is also calling for comparable store restaurant sales growth of 2%-3%, which surpasses our current estimate of 1.85%. Additionally, the company is projecting comparable store retail sales to come in at approximately 1%.

Cracker Barrel also anticipates for its investment in Punch Bowl Social to have an unfavorable impact of approximately $0.50 on fiscal 2020 earnings. As a result, fiscal 2020 earnings are now expected to be between $8.80 and $8.95 per share. Consequently, the company’s adjusted guidance falls short of our estimate of $9.07 per share.

Takeaway

Cracker Barrel delivered another solid fiscal year and is looking to diversify its revenue streams with its investment in Punch Bowl Social. Their PBS investment also addresses the question of how they expect to better cater to younger generations who are garnering more purchasing power as the years go by.

Their “Five Decades, One Voice” initiative to honor iconic women within the country music industry has also elevated its brand. Cracker Barrel is successfully maintaining its age-old brand while still delivering what its consumer base wants. CBRL is sitting at a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) with a Style Score of A in Growth.

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