Stocks have hit records over the past two days, despite looming federal budget cuts, because of a series of encouraging economic reports. Many restaurant stocks have followed suit: several of them, in fact, from AFC Enterprises to Wendy’s, are trading at or near 52-week highs. Do these stocks deserve it?
Bob Evans didn’t get a whole lot for its Mimi’s Café brand last month largely because the chain didn’t make much of a profit. And low profits typically yield low multiples. So it has to be tempting for its new owner to start slashing costs, right? Perhaps, but Le Duff America insists that won’t be the case.
If you can’t beat them, put them on your board so you won’t have to bother. That’s what Minneapolis-based Famous Dave’s is doing with its activist, Patrick Walsh. The barbecue chain said today that it has agreed to place Walsh among its slate of director nominees, so long as he doesn’t buy up too much stock.
Will the Angus Burger go the way of the Arch Deluxe? It’s looking that way. The company is apparently viewing options for its premium burger line, amid a menu shakeup designed to make way for new items while ridding the company of some poor-selling items.
As we’ve said more than once, Cracker Barrel’s run-up in stock recently has been good for its largest shareholder, Biglari Holdings. But, apparently, it’s also been quite good for Biglari Holdings’ biggest shareholder, chairman and its namesake, Sardar Biglari.
Some solid financials and a couple of good concepts weren’t enough to keep Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group from struggling out of the gate when it went public last summer. But since then, those financials have taken over, the stock is up, and now its controlling shareholder is selling off a chunk of shares.
Yup, the end of the payroll tax break is hurting casual dining chains. DineEquity, the Glendale, California-based owner of Applebee’s and IHOP today said that the tax hike is hurting consumer spending, joining a chorus of dine-in concepts that are feeling the heat as consumers suddenly find less in their paychecks.
(UPDATED) Sardar Biglari is making a lot of money today. Cracker Barrel, in which Biglari Holdings owns 20 percent of the stock, is having a spectacular day on Wall Street after it released a quarterly report showing steady traffic and increased sales and an improved outlook for 2013.
J. Alexander’s has been part of American Blue Ribbon Holdings for a few months and already it’s being spun off. Fidelity, American’s owner, said today that it is forming a company in Nashville focused exclusively on the upscale segment, with J. Alexander’s and the 10-unit Stoney River Legendary Steaks concept.
Your move, Mr. Fertitta. Ark Restaurants this morning turned down a buyout offer from Landry’s Chairman Tilman Fertitta, calling the $22-per-share offer from Houston’s serial restaurant acquirer “inadequate, not compelling and not in the best interests of Ark Restaurants shareholders.”
There are rumors that McDonald’s will come out with a national chicken wing offer this summer. The idea that the world’s biggest restaurant chain will suddenly start competing for that growing market while taking a huge bunch of chicken wings off the market has to scare chains like Wingstop, right?
We found ourselves a bit amazed at the performance of Red Robin’s stock yesterday. The company reported 1.4-percent same-store sales growth, predicted better growth this year, and beat estimates on revenue and earnings. And its stock exploded to the tune of 20 percent.
In his letter to Cracker Barrel last week, San Antonio investor Sardar Biglari denied that he had any exit strategy in mind for his investment in the Tennessee-based chain. And we sort-of believe him. After all, we still think his ultimate goal is a merger of that chain with his own company, Biglari Holdings. But there’s a backup plan.
Last week, Landry’s Chairman Tilman Fertitta griped that the board at Ark Restaurants hasn’t been quick enough to respond to his offer to buy the company, and Ark responded by saying, in so many words, “Hold your horses.” Which gives us time to decide whether Fertitta is offering a fair price.
UPDATED: We’ve been speculating for weeks now about what Sardar Biglari would do with his investment in Cracker Barrel after losing his second straight proxy fight against the company. We now know what one of the options won’t be: the company buying out his nearly 20-percent share of Cracker Barrel stock.
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