It's strange, really. Usually the companies that attract a lot of shareholder "activism" are those where the stock is in the dumps and management is perceived to be doing little more than rearranging deck chairs. Such is not the case, in my view, at Wendy's
In any case, the company gave some insight into fourth-quarter results that could probably be considered mixed. Same-store sales at the Tim Hortons business were up 5.8% in Canada and 6.7% in the U.S. For Wendy's, the numbers were negative 2.9% at company-owned restaurants and negative 1.9% at franchised locations. Last and least, Baja Fresh comp sales were down about 2.9%
It's an odd picture of the strong getting stronger and the weak getting weaker. After all, year-ago comps were pretty strong for Tim Hortons and pretty weak for both Wendy's and Baja Fresh -- and yet all of them continued along basically the same path as before.
Wendy's management also gave some air time to its strategic initiatives. In a nutshell, the company has been busy making changes to the business (or at least creating the appearance of change). Tim Hortons is on the way to becoming an IPO, the company has repaid some debt, underperforming stores are being closed, and the company seems committed to further refranchising activities.
Is there room for improvement here? Sure -- returns on capital are pretty feeble, and margins aren't exactly the stuff of legend, either. Still, the current valuation on these shares suggests that people already expect a fair measure of improvement. While Wendy's might get more interesting on a big drop or a big change in the business, ideas like Sonic
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).