Restaurants giants, like DineEquity, frequently either buy or develop new concepts to develop additional growth pipelines or test out ideas for their larger chains.
"Oftentimes when you are looking at the industry and recognize you're in a more mature segment, the opportunity for growth isn't necessarily as strong there," said Darren Tristano, an executive vice president at Technomic, in a phone interview.
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Full service, which includes brands like IHOP and Applebee's, is one such example of a mature segment, he added.
Even as DineEquity continues to hunt for a small purchase, investors should not expect a deal anytime soon.
"There are a variety of things we're looking at—nothing that's imminent, nothing's that surfaced to the top," Stewart said.