A leading analyst has said that the recent IMS from The Restaurant Group, the operator of Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkels, once again highlighted the resilience of the group’s popular casual dining brands. Simon French at Panmure Gordon said that this resilience was under appreciated especially as the group’s recent like-for-like sales growth of 2.75% YTD reflected an outperformance of its pub and restaurant peers. He said that recent trading trends were encouraging and that the group should benefit from last year’s weather impacted LFLS sales comparatives of c.-8% over weeks 45-52. Official data suggests that food output cost inflation may have peaked in September at 9.5% and, whilst it remained high at 9% in October, French thinks that the underlying data “indicates a further slowing over the remainder of 2011E and into 2012E”. He said: “The top-line/margin equation continues to ebb and flow, and we have amended our model to reflect stronger than anticipated sales growth but stubborn food cost inflation eating into margins. “However, there is no change to our headline forecasts, we reiterate our Buy recommendation and increase our target price from 350p to 3605p implying c.25% upside potential.”