Although Americans are staying home for movies, we're eating out like never before. In 2007 we'll spend more than $550 billion devouring food prepared by someone else. This trend has risen steadily for the past 40 years, accelerating of late in part because more than 60% of mothers now work outside the home.
The net result is a flurry of new restaurants - numbering 900,000 in America - in the categories of fine dining, fast casual, family dining, fast food, and self-service.
One company that's benefiting across the board is Middleby Corp. (MIDD). Its stock is down 15% from highs this year but has risen more than 20 times in value since 2000.
Middleby has emerged as the leader in sales of innovative, high-quality, and energy-efficient ovens to restaurant chains. What's particularly appealing here is that the same shift in eating habits are playing out internationally, only with far more upside. And Middleby is well positioned to profit around the globe. I believe this stock also will more than double over the next five years.