Salomon Smith Barney upgraded Brinker International (EAT) and Outback Steakhouse (OSI). At the same time, the brokerage downgraded Wendy's (WEN) and AFC Enterprises (AFCE).
Analyst Mark Kalinowski says he upgraded EAT to outperform from in-line and OSI to in-line from underperform. He downgraded AFCE to underperform from in-line, and WEN to in-line from outperform.
He says while he's favored the casual-dining sector relative to the fast-food sector for some time, the gap between his views has now widened. Kalinowski cites a recent wait-list survey showing strong demand for the casual dining experience. He also views rising gas prices as bad for the fast-food sector, which is already suffering from aggressive menu pricing and general consumer malaise.