February 23, 2007
Rats are the last thing Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM ) needs after having recently tangled with a PR debacle related to an E. coli outbreak, but the rats attacked.
While watching CNBC this morning, I was fortunate enough to catch video of a gaggle of rats scurrying around inside a closed KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in New York City. (By fortunate, I mean I hadn't just finished a Chalupa, and it was quite a sight.)
Vermin obviously don't belong in a restaurant, even if it's just one restaurant that's part of a huge chain. Be certain that rivals like McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , Wendy's (NYSE: WEN ) , and Burger King (NYSE: BKC ) are heaving sighs of relief that it's not one of their restaurants getting such dubious publicity.
At first blush, I wondered if it was a prank or a hoax; that was more rats than I've seen in one place since I saw the movie Willard. Vermin may be around more often than we'd even like to contemplate, but they're seldom seen. And the first thing I thought of was the finger found in Wendy's chili several years ago -- a distasteful story that turned out to be a hoax. However, subsequent news coverage reveals that this franchise has had repeated problems with vermin and cockroaches, so it seems likely this is no joke.
Nope, there's nothing yummy about rats, and the stock slid in today's trading. Somebody, send in the chihuahuas! Or maybe an army of hungry housecats?
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. If you'd like to chime in on this article, feel free to send her an email or comment here.