Shares of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (Nasdaq: CBRL ) popped nearly 5% higher yesterday, after a 13D Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Sardar Biglari's Biglari Holdings (NYSE: BH ) showed that the Warren Buffett-esque company had a 9.7% stake in the comfort food eatery chain.
Some may speculate that a buyout is in the works, but that isn't necessarily in sync with Biglari's opportunistic nature. Biglari Holdings may have been birthed through the acquisition of Steak n Shake, but Biglari is a light eater.
He has purchased stakes in Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (Nasdaq: RRGB ) and Sonic (Nasdaq: SONC ) in the past, only to regurgitate them later. Biglari is an investor who isn't afraid to trade. He eyes restaurants the way a teen does when asked where he wants to eat. He'll settle for what's cheap and convenient, but then he'll be hungry for something different a short time later.
I'll admit to ripping into Biglari when he was just getting started with his Steak n Shake makeover. He came off as a huge Buffett copycat.
After making a logical investment in Western Sizzlin, he turned his attention to a small insurer for his next purchase. That's so Buffett.
There was also the needless reverse split, which at the time seemed just like a stunt to command a lofty share price to be mentioned in the same breath as Berkshire Hathaway as one of the handful of stocks trading in the triple digits.
I also was suspicious of the name change. Biglari Holdings? Berkshire Hathaway? Those two can swipe monogrammed handkerchiefs and no one would notice! Nice ticker symbol, to boot.
"Remember when Octomom tried to look like Angelina Jolie?" I joked at the time.
Trust me when I tell you that it was a good shot. Octomom was pretty relevant in 2009.
However, Biglari has proven himself to be pretty adept. The stock is trading higher since its late 2009 reverse split. Earnings are growing. I don't make Biglari jokes anymore.
As a Cracker Barrel investor for years, I certainly wouldn't mind a buyout at a healthy premium. However, I also know I'm not getting it. This isn't Biglari's style, and he's simply taking advantage of an attractive price for an iconic Southern-style chain that has made it through several decades of fickle diners.
He may very well be rocking back and forth in one of the many chairs that line the rustic front porch of the roadside institution, but that's about it. He'll move one way. He'll move the other. He'll get up and go eat somewhere else.
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