Is Krispy Kreme Destined for Greatness?

Investors love stocks that consistently beat the Street without getting ahead of their fundamentals and risking a meltdown. The best stocks offer sustainable market-beating gains, with robust and improving financial metrics that support strong price growth. Does Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (NYSE: KKD  ) fit the bill? Let's take a look at what its recent results tell us about its potential for future gains.

What we're looking for
The graphs you're about to see tell Krispy Kreme's story, and we'll be grading the quality of that story in several ways:

  • Growth: Are profits, margins, and free cash flow all increasing?
  • Valuation: Is share price growing in line with earnings per share?
  • Opportunities: Is return on equity increasing while debt to equity declines?
  • Dividends: Are dividends consistently growing in a sustainable way?

What the numbers tell you
Now, let's take a look at Krispy Kreme's key statistics:

KKD Total Return Price Chart

KKD Total Return Price data by YCharts.

Passing Criteria

3-Year* Change 

Grade

Revenue growth > 30%

29.8%

Fail

Improving profit margin

36.7%

Pass

Free cash flow growth > Net income growth

803.9% vs. 831.3%

Fail

Improving EPS

1,050%

Pass

Stock growth (+ 15%) < EPS growth

367% vs. 1,050%

Pass

Source: YCharts. *Period begins at end of Q1 (April) 2010.

KKD Return on Equity Chart

KKD Return on Equity data by YCharts.

Passing Criteria

3-Year* Change

Grade

Improving return on equity

140.3%

Pass

Declining debt to equity

(84.8%)

Pass

Source: YCharts. *Period begins at end of Q1 (April) 2010.

How we got here and where we're going
Krispy Kreme got off to a piping hot start, but it was tripped up with narrow misses on both the revenue and free cash flow analysis. That isn't enough to call this stock stale, as Krispy Kreme earned five out of seven passing grades regardless, and it has a very good chance to gain a perfect score next time around. How might Krispy Kreme push its revenue even higher over the next few quarters?

The donut chain has a few hidden weapons that won't require higher revenues for success at all. My fellow Fool Asit Sharma pointed out last year that a hefty deferred tax asset will help keep tax rates glued to the floor for some time. That's great news for Krispy Kreme's free cash flow metric as well as its bottom line -- this might be one way that Krispy Kreme earns its sixth passing grade.

Krispy Kreme is continuing its international expansion as well, and it will establish a presence in Taiwan in the near future. This seems like a great start to enlarge Krispy Kreme's beachhead on the Chinese mainland. On the other hand, Krispy Kreme's expansion plans are a drop in the bucket compared to rival Dunkin' Brands (NASDAQ: DNKN  ) , which is planning to add more than 300 new locations in the United States alone this year. That's nearly half the number of Krispy Kreme's total domestic locations! If Krispy Kreme doesn't have a strategy to maintain its brand cachet against the rapid expansion of its chief rival, it could fall behind as consumers gravitate toward a more convenient Dunkin'. It also doesn't help Krispy Kreme that Dunkin' has been diversifying away from a donut-heavy menu to attract consumers who might otherwise avoid the temptation of a doughnut.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that Krispy Kreme is part of the leading edge of junk food franchises that Americans have gravitated toward, in spite of health warnings and the persistent sirens of an obesity crisis. Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ: CAKE  ) , another franchise known for its unhealthy baked goods, is also growing quickly. It hasn't gained as much as Krispy Kreme, but it hasn't had to start from such a low point, either. There remains a certain prestige in being "the treat franchise," and Krispy Kreme embodies this better than Dunkin -- at least from this writer's humble perspective.

Putting the pieces together
Today, Krispy Kreme has many of the qualities that make up a great stock, but no stock is truly perfect. Digging deeper can help you uncover the answers you need to make a great buy -- or to stay away from a stock that's going nowhere.

Solid companies selling at depressed prices have consistently helped generations of the world's most successful investors preserve capital, minimize risk, and achieve long-term, market-trampling returns. For one such company, read our free report: "The One REMARKABLE Stock to Own Now." Just click here to get started.

Keep track of Krispy Kreme by adding it to your free stock Watchlist.


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Related Tickers

12/19/2014 4:10 PM
KKD $19.29 Up +0.28 +1.47%
Krispy Kreme Dough… CAPS Rating: **
CAKE $48.62 Down -0.61 -1.24%
The Cheesecake Fac… CAPS Rating: ***
DNKN $41.67 Down -1.38 -3.21%
Dunkin' Brands Gro… CAPS Rating: ***

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