Fans of "The Muppets" may remember a series of off-the-wall hilarious ads for Wilkins Coffee filmed in black and white in the late 1950s and starring some early Muppets -- one, notably, in which Muppet Wilkins hands his friend Wontkins a live grenade when he refuses a cup, leaves the scene and, after it explodes, remarks that "some people just go to pieces without their Wilkins Coffee." (Others featured razors, blowtorches, machine guns, and the like.)
The main reason for this is that the company's main brand, Gloria Jean's, was the only one to turn in declining same-store sales for the year. It finished weakly, meanwhile, in Q4 -- bad news since the vast majority of its outlets are mall-based Gloria Jean's franchises. (Most of its Coffee People and Diedrich stores are company-owned.) Total revenues, meanwhile, fell year-over-year. There was better news in the announcements that gross and operating margins improved; the company managed a slim net profit after losing $1.2 million a year ago.
So how will a growing Diedrich perform? That's the question with management investing this year as it plans to continue growing its franchise business into a competitive branded coffee business that also includes Peet'sCoffee
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't drink coffee (save the occasional espresso) or own any of the companies in this article.