In researching his thoughts about the potential merits of the Applebee’s deal, Goldman Sachs restaurant analyst Steven Kron looked at the chain’s recent results in a way most analysts don’t. He didn’t spend much time on its financials; Applebee’s is a well-run chain with a decent balance sheet and solid cash flow. As a public company, subject to audits that adhere to Sarbanes-Oxley standards, those numbers are out there where everyone can see. Instead, Kron took a butts-in-seats approach, ...

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