TOP 10 FAST FOOD CHAINS
TOP 10 FAST FOODS FOR HUNGRY
Sales trends at fast food chains are improving, and the trend is likely to continue. With winter weather seemingly done for the season Americans are beginning to emerge from hibernation. That awakening is good news for quick service restaurants where sales have begun to show sequential growth in March, a trend that is likely to continue.
In late February CKE agreed to be acquired by private equity firm THL Partners for $11.05 per share, but now it’s in talks with an alternative bidder that offered what it considers a “superior proposal.” Despite its recent struggles with sluggish same-store sales, THL’s $611 valuation fails to fully appreciate CKE’s worth, according to Ned Douthat, chief equity analyst at Ockham Research.
Despite dramatically narrowing its quarterly losses and posting adjusted profits of 7 cents per share, revenue was off by 7% for Arby’s and same-store sales at Wendy’s dropped by 3% in the period ended Jan. 3. The firm forecast positive same-store sales at Wendy’s this year and said it expects negative same-store sales at Arby’s though revenues should improve on a year-over-year basis.
At this throwback to 1950s-styled carhop-service burger chains, sales declined 13.2% in the three months ended Feb. 28. Sales are likely to pick up as the weather warms. Piper Jaffrey recently boosted its outlook on Sonic and upped its price target to $12 from $8.
Same-store sales fell 5.4% worldwide in the first two months of 2010 because of poor weather in much of central and U.S. states, where Burger King generates around 75% of its business. It enjoyed a positive response in early March thanks partly to its new Steakhouse XT burger. Deutsche Bank recently upgraded shares and set a price target of $24.
Mickey D’s reported its best same-store sales growth in nine months in early March, unaffected by poor weather in the U.S. since two-thirds of its revenue is generated outside its home country and its always-low Dollar Menu keeps customers walking in the door. The Golden Arches’ McCafe program rolls out new frappe and smoothie products through the spring and summer.
Ann Arbor, Mich., chain is among Citigroup analyst Gregory R. Badishkanian’s “best ideas” in the restaurant and foodservice sector as pent-up demand for dining out following poor weather in the first two months of 2010 led to improving sales. In early March the pizza purveyor posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, with U.S. same-store sales edging up 1.4% and international sales climbing 3.9%.
Strength in Pizza Hut and Taco Bell is offsetting ongoing sluggishness at KFC. Following an upgrade from UBS last month Morgan Stanley raised its price target on Yum! to $44 seeing further appreciation in the future. Once investors price in the company’s exposure to China, the stock could climb by as much as 10%. Yum! recently opened its first Taco Bell restaurant in India.
Panera Bread posted better-than-expected profits in its most recent quarter, with comparable bakery-café sales increasing 7.4%. In the first six weeks of the current quarter the purveyor of salads and paninis saw same-store sales jump 8.4%. It expects same-store sales to climb 9% this quarter.
Denver’s Chipotle Mexican Grill easily beat expectations in its recent quarter with profits of 99 cents per share. Results were helped by a 2% rise in same-store sales, driven by menu price increases, as well as 45 new restaurants not counted in the same-store sales figures. The burrito maker forecast flat comp sales for 2010 but if recent trends in the quick service sector keep up, Chipotle could surprise to the upside.