Regional burger chain Jack In The Box
And despite yesterday's move, as the company transitions from a regional quick-serve restaurant (QSR) to a national chain with a reinvented brand, the stock is still reasonably priced at 12 times management's fiscal 2004 earnings guidance of $1.68 per share.
What's in the works? First, there's the national rollout. The company currently has Jack In The Box restaurants in 17 states, meaning there is plenty of room to grow -- and that's a good thing.
In my part of the country, Jack In The Box still plays second fiddle to McDonald's
Jack's Ultimate Cheeseburger isn't half bad, and the breakfast sandwiches are a great value. Often times for me, if it's not a sit down at IHOP
I'm not alone: 85% of customers drive-thru or take out.
Jack In The Box added 27 new company restaurants in the fourth quarter and 90 for the year, to finish with 1,947 units. The company plans to add 65 additional units this year, along with 100 new Qdoba Mexican Grills, almost doubling the 111 currently in place. The company acquired the Qdoba chain in January.
And then there's the brand reinvention. To appeal to a wider audience -- women and more mature folks in particular -- Jack in the Box has upgraded and broadened its menu. For example, the company introduced Jack's Ultimate Salads in April and its Chicken Breast Strips in October.
Though the service time can still be horrendous and large-order mix-ups occur with some frequency, this can partially be attributed to the "we don't make it 'til you order it" nature of service. And the company's service ranking has also improved from 20th in 2000 to 5th among QSRs in America, according to QSR Magazine.
So the company is trying.
As importantly, the stock is reasonably priced, the cash is flowing, and the company has been buying back shares. National expansion, brand reinvention, service improvements, and a cheap price tag give Jack In The Box at least a pair of jacks in the hole.