Piper Jaffray Ups Cheesecake Factory

Says the company is well positioned to withstand a downturn in consumer spending

Piper Jaffray raised its investment opinion Cheesecake Factory (CAKE ) to outperform from market perform.

Analyst Peter Oakes said that in a climate where investors remain anxious about consumers' restaurant spending prospects, he views the company as ideally positioned to weather the storm given its past comparable sales resiliency, and strong unit level returns contributing to above-average earnings per share visibility. He noted 27 cents third quarter earnings per share in line with the consensus, but 3 cents stronger than his estimate. He believes the investor psychology toward the restaurant group is unlikely to get materially worse. He raised his $1.07 2005 earnings per share estimate to $1.10, and his $1.29 2006 estimate to $1.32, and his $31 target to $37.

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