Outback Bowl Promotion Starts Strong 2013 For Bloomin' Brands

| About: Bloomin' Brands (BLMN)

The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Michigan Wolverines in one of many college football bowl games played on New Year's Eve. So what does this have to do with the stock market? Well, for one restaurant company, a promotional tie-in could pay off and help comparable sales.

Bloomin' Brands (NASDAQ:BLMN), the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, will see a large increase of customers on January 2nd, 2013. The reason for the increase centers around a free appetizer giveaway. Every customer who says "Outback Bowl" will receive a free Bloomin' Onion appetizer at Outback Steakhouse locations on Wednesday. Had the Wolverines won on Tuesday, customers would have gotten a free appetizer order of Coconut Shrimp.

The catch here is customers have to make a purchase in order to receive their free appetizer. This promotion is one of many reasons why the chain continues to increase its comparable same-store sales. In the company's third quarter, Bloomin' Brands reported its tenth consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth at locations open more than eighteen months. Assuming the company posts growth in the fourth quarter that ended in December of 2012, the company has now set itself up well to start the first quarter of fiscal 2013.

The Outback Bowl continues to be one of the most popular college football bowl games in the nation. The game features a Big Ten and SEC team that play in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1995, Outback Steakhouse took over sponsorship for the former Hall of Fame Game. The game aired on ESPN at 1pm to a huge television audience. The huge viewership should ensure that customers are coming in to Outback restaurants on Wednesday.

Bloomin' Brands is the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's, and Roy's. The company has 1259 locations across the United States and other countries. In the third quarter, Bloomin' renovated 54 Outback Steakhouse locations and added ten other restaurants to its base. The company opened five Bonefish Grill, 2 Carrabba's, 2 company-owned international Outbacks, and one international franchised Outback. Bloomin' opened its first restaurant in the Chinese market, with the opening of a company-owned Outback Steakhouse in Shanghai.

During the company's IPO, Bloomin' made clear that domestic expansion of Bonefish Grill was one of its top priorities. The company is planning on opening twenty locations a year. Bloomin' recently announced the addition of Stephen Judge as president of Bonefish. Judge comes from Seasons 52, an upscale restaurant chain owned by Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI).

Back in August, I recommended buying shares of Bloomin' in their initial price offering. Shares priced at $11 for the company's IPO, after a previous range of $13-$15. Shares shot up on their first day of trading and are now trading at $15.64. The shares have hit a high of $16.98 since the company's IPO.

Analysts on Yahoo Finance expect Bloomin' Brands to post earnings per share of $0.19 in the fourth quarter. For the fiscal year, analysts expect earnings of $0.98. The following fiscal 2013 has projected earnings of $1.05. Bloomin' updated guidance during its conference call. The company expects full-year earnings to come in at $0.95. The company is forecasting 2012 revenue of $4.0 billion. In fiscal 2013, Bloomin' has already forecasted revenue to grow to $4.2 billion, led by a 3% increase in comparable stores.

The free promotion from Bloomin' Brands won't make or break the whole fiscal 2013. The promotion is a positive step for the company that is on an impressive streak of same-store sales growth. The company has been on my radar since the IPO. Strong chain growth and same-store sales growth should pay off for long-term investors.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.