The company behind the Jamba Juice smoothie chain has been a smooth operator this year. The stock hit a fresh two-year high this week, and it has already gone on to more than double in 2012.
There was a double dose of good news this week.
On Monday Jamba introduced a new a new fruit and dairy beverage for schools. The naturally sweetened smoothie hopes to make a mark for schools that have banned sugary soft drinks but still want some premium beverages to offer that pack the benefits of fat-free milk with real fruit.
On Tuesday the company announced that its 30th international location opened in the Philippines. This is Jamba's third franchisee-opened store in the Philippines, adding to its 20 smoothie shops in South Korea and another seven in Canada. This is a pretty impressive reach for a concept that didn't have a store outside of the United States until last year.
These are healthy times for Jamba. The move to gradually shift to a franchising model -- with roughly 300 of the 769 stores being owned and operated by the company these days -- has resulted in improving margins. Comps have also been positive for five quarters in a row, silencing the skeptics that figured that the proliferation of cheaper smoothie drinks being blended up at Starbucks
It obviously hasn't hurt. If anything the trend has only helped in educating the market that ultimately seeks out greater variety and more nutritional boosts out of their chilly fruit beverages.
After years of small deficits, Jamba turned the corner of profitability last summer and is expected to post its first year of annual profitability this year. Jamba always had a neat thing going. All it needed was competition to make it neater.
Set your blenders to whirr
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Jamba. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.