BJ's Restaurants (NASDAQ:BJRI) will soon have tens of millions of fresh dollars in its coffers.
The company announced after market hours on Friday that it has agreed to sell $70 million worth of common stock to investment firm Act III Holdings and partners that BJ's described as "funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates," without elaboration. The latter company is part of T. Rowe Price Group.
That shareholding will be substantial -- as of Friday's market close, BJ's market capitalization was just under $374.5 million. Like other businesses in the food and beverage sector, BJ's operations (and its stock price) have come under strain because of social distancing and stay-in-place rules mandated to battle the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak.
The restaurant-chain operator said in its press release trumpeting the investment that the proceeds will be used to "enhance BJ's liquidity and strengthen our ability to welcome back our team members and reopen dine-in service at our restaurants," in accordance with local regulations.
Act III is a $300 million investment vehicle recently established by Ron Shaich, the founder and former CEO of popular sandwich franchise and one-time star consumer goods stock Panera Bread. BJ's press release quoted him saying that the company's "ability to stay ahead of changing consumer trends, while remaining true to its brand heritage, provides a platform to ignite future growth, and the opportunity to more than double its current restaurant footprint."
BJ's didn't provide a timetable as to when the deal might close.
The involvement of the well-regarded Shaich appears to have impressed investors. After falling by almost 9% during the standard trading day on Friday -- a steeper slide than that of the broader equities market -- BJ's stock boomeranged back by roughly the same percentage in after-hours action.