Calorie Counters Beware: 4 Restaurant Chains in Focus

Cheesecake Factory Inc (NASDAQ:CAKE) and Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC) are among the chain restaurants serving up the unhealthiest meals

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jun 4, 2015 at 1:27 PM

The results are in! In this month's "Nutrition Action Health Letter," the Center for Science in the Public Interest named the "9 Worst Chain Restaurant Meals of the Year." Appearing on the list were a number of publicly traded companies, including Bloomin' Brands Inc's (NASDAQ:BLMN) Outback Steakhouse, Cheesecake Factory Inc (NASDAQ:CAKE), Darden Restaurants, Inc.'s (NYSE:DRI) Red Lobster, and Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC). Against this backdrop, we decided to take the proverbial blood pressure of BLMN, CAKE, DRI, and SONC -- both on and off the charts.

Outback's Herb Roasted Prime Rib dinner led the way, as the steak and sides weigh in at a hefty 2,400 calories and 71 grams of saturated fat. Meanwhile, shares of parent company BLMN have waddled lower under pressure from their 10-week moving average -- down nearly 9% year-to-date at $22.54.

Traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) are expecting additional losses, too, purchasing puts at an accelerated clip. BLMN's 50-day put/call volume ratio across this trio of exchanges is 4.80 -- ranking just 8 percentage points from an annual high.

Moving along, CAKE is the only restaurant chain to earn two spots on the list. Its Louisiana Chicken Pasta boasts 2,370 calories, while its Warm Apple Crisp has 1,740 -- plus 32 teaspoons of sugar!

On the charts, CAKE has advanced less than 4% in 2015 to flirt with $52.18. As such, the brokerage bunch is mostly skeptical toward the equity. Specifically, 80% of covering analysts consider the shares a tepid "hold."

Another notable on the list of notorious meals is Red Lobster's Create Your Own Combination. The study's authors selected three shrimp dishes, french fries, a Caesar salad, and one biscuit -- totaling 2,710 calories and four days' worth of sodium.

Red Lobster parent DRI, meanwhile, has advanced more than 11% this year, hovering around $65.14. However, the majority of analysts tracking the shares consider them a "hold" or worse. Also, the stock's average 12-month price target of $69.78 represents a slim 7% premium to current levels. This could pave the way for a round of upgrades and/or price-target hikes.

Finally, SONC's Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast packs in just over 2,000 calories and 61 grams of saturated fat. The company's shares, meanwhile, have declined 18.2% since hitting an all-time high of $36.73 in late March, and now trade at $30.03.

Short sellers are anticipating further struggles, too. Over 9% of SONC's float is sold short, which represents more than seven sessions of trading, at the stock's average daily clip.

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