Brinker International throws a high-volume continuation signal

Brinker International has Chili's in its portfolio; Image of a Chili's chain

Brinker International Inc.'s (NYSE: EAT) share price is gaining traction after years of wallowing within a trading range. The move sparked by the FQ2/CQ4 earnings report is solid and suggests the recent uptrend will continue. In this case, the continuation signal is trend-following and a reversal. Brinker shares are trending higher within the range and confirm that trend with a high-volume trend-following signal that also breaks the restaurant stock to new highs. 

Because the move is due to solid results, improved guidance and analysts' support, it could result in significant upside in 2024. The magnitude of the trading range and reversal pattern is worth more than $23 or about 105%; projecting those to the breakout point sets a target range of $67 to $92 over the next two to three years. 

Brinker International: Growing and optimizing profits

Brinker International had a solid FQ2/CQ4 with revenue of $1.07 billion, up 4.9% compared to last year. The revenue is as expected but compounded by margin improvement. 

Among the takeaways for potential investors is that revenue is up 23% compared to FQ2 2020, the last comparable quarter before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the share price is relatively flat. The company made revenue gains on traffic and pricing increases, and all three core segments produced mid-single-digit year-over-year (YOY) comps.

The margin news is good. The company widened the operating and restaurant operating margins by nearly 200 basis points despite leaning into increased ad spending. Its move toward simplification is paying off. The GAAP income doubled as a result, and the adjusted grew by 30%, leaving adjusted earnings at 99 cents.

Earnings outpace the consensus by over 500 basis points, and strength should continue. The company raised its EPS target to $3.45 to $3.75, a nickel at both ends, putting the analysts' consensus estimate in the range lower half. Guidance may be cautious, given the momentum. 

Analysts lead the market to higher price points

The analysts have the stock pegged at "hold," and the consensus price target is lagging the price action, but the group is leading the market to higher price points. MarketBeat tracks three post-release revisions that amount to a Strong Buy with a price target of $50. The $50 target is nearly 25% above the consensus and still 10% above the recent price action and suggests the rally will continue. 

Brinker International offers some value relative to its peers, but there is a catch. The 12x earnings multiple is low compared to Texas Roadhouse (NASDAQ: TXRH)Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) and even Cracker Barrel (NASDAQ: CBRL), but there is no yield. The company cut the payment in 2020 to preserve capital during the pandemic and has yet to bring it back. 

The company took on significant debt to help fund its growth and is running a shareholder deficit, so it may not come back soon, but there is promise in the outlook. The business is strong and growing, producing solid cash flows. It allows them to sustain a cash position, pay down debt and reduce the deficit, which is down nearly 25% YOY. At this pace, shareholder equity could return to positive territory in early F2025, only two quarters away. 

The technical outlook: On the brink of higher prices 

Brinker International hit bottom in 2022 and is now in full reversal. Since then, the stock is up more than 100%, breaking above critical resistance. Critical resistance is at the baseline of a bullish Head & Shoulders Pattern near $43.85. Now that resistance is broken, the market should be able to sustain a rally. The next targets for significant resistance are at $50 and $60.

Brinker International chart

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