Good Morning, Jamba

In the suddenly crowded field vying for the breakfast market, smoothie pourer Jamba Juice is getting up early to stake its claim. Jamba (Nasdaq: JMBA  ) is starting to test a new breakfast line of blended beverages and snacks in New York City and Los Angeles. If successful, the rest of the 640-unit chain will start rising when the rooster crows.

New juice blends, yogurt blends, and granola-topped dairy drinks will aim to hook hungry morning commuters. Not everything on the regular Jamba menu is wholesomely good for you, but the chain certainly offers healthier alternatives than the fried fare at fast-food joints or doughnut shops like Krispy Kreme (NYSE: KKD  ) . The key is in convincing consumers that paying for a lighter breakfast is worth it.

Unlike the seasoned morning vets at standalone Burger King (NYSE: BKC  ) and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) stores, Jamba Juice locations are usually tucked away in the heart of strip malls, where convenient drive-thru options aren't available.

The market for the breakfast dollar is also getting more competitive. Wendy's (NYSE: WEN  ) is gradually rolling out breakfast menus in select markets, while Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) is installing speedy TurboChef (Nasdaq: OVEN  ) convection ovens to test out warm breakfast eats.

The timing of the breakfast push couldn't come at a better time for the company, though. Jamba just completed its seasonally strongest quarter with lackluster results. Demand for Jamba's smoothies tend to wane as the summer heat fizzles, so now would be a good time to see if it can do something to smoothen out the seasonality while improving sluggish comps.

I guess that's why they call them smoothies? Bad joke, I know, but with Jamba's share price dipping well into the single digits, the breakfast catalyst -- even if it seems as nutty as granola -- is as good a reason as any to get excited about waking up to the whir of institutional blenders in the morning.

Former odes to Jamba and other earthy drinks:


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