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Denny’s Serves Up Grand-Slam Returns

Friday, May 24th, 2013
By for Profit Confidential

Denny’s Serves Up Grand-Slam ReturnsWe all know that McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD) is the reigning king of the fast food sector and one of the top performers over the past decade, based on my stock analysis.

In fact, my stock analysis suggests that McDonalds’ rivals are trying to emulate what is working at the company rather than compete against the seller of the iconic “Big Mac.”

Burger King Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE/BKW) may be pursuing a similar strategy to McDonalds’ by diversifying its menu offering with new items and value-conscious options, based on my stock analysis.

Yet while Wall Street focuses on McDonalds and its burger-oriented rivals, my stock analysis reveals that a stock that I feel offers better valuation and potential upside is Denny’s Corporation (NASDAQ/DENN). With a market-cap of $552 million, Denny’s is dwarfed by the $102-billion market cap of McDonalds, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a buying opportunity with Denny’s, based on my stock analysis.

In fact, Denny’s is up 50% over the past 52 weeks and has easily outperformed the S&P 500’s advance of 26.8% and McDonalds’ 11.8% gain, according to my technical analysis.

DENN Denny's Corp. Nasdaq stock market chart

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Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Denny’s is best known for its “Grand Slam” breakfast offerings. The company has gone through a major structural reorganization in which it sold many of its stores to franchisors, thereby reducing its own operating costs and collecting fees instead. As of March 27, 2013, 1,525 of the company’s 1,689 restaurants were franchised. The end results have been stronger operating numbers and a steady rise in the company’s share price, according to my stock analysis.

About 98 restaurants are situated in Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Guam, Curacao, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and New Zealand.

And in an aggressive and bold move, Denny’s has been looking at expanding into the highly competitive Chinese market, where the top players are McDonalds and YUM! Brands, Inc. (NYSE/YUM)—owner of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Taco Bell brands. The company’s deal with Great China International Group was recently cancelled, likely due to some poor results from the top players in China, based on my stock analysis.

On the operations end, Denny’s reported adjusted earnings of $0.08 per diluted share in its first-quarter earnings season, up 48.4% year-over-year and a penny above the Thomson Financial consensus earnings-per-share (EPS) estimates. It was the third straight quarter of outperformance.

On a comparative valuation basis, Denny’s trades at 1.16X trailing sales and has a price-to-earnings-growth (PEG) ratio of 0.92, versus 3.71X sales and a PEG ratio of 2.04 for McDonalds.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I still believe McDonalds will continue to be the top player in the restaurant and fast foods sector going forward. (Read “The Secret to Success in the Fast Food Sector.”) But for some added potential, a small-cap such as Denny’s makes sense for the aggressive investor, based on my stock analysis.

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George Leong - Financial Planner, ConsultantGeorge Leong, B. Comm. is a Senior Editor at Lombardi Financial, and has been involved in analyzing the stock markets for two decades where he employs both fundamental and technical analysis. His overall market timing and trading knowledge is extensive in the areas of small-cap research and option trading. George is the editor of several of Lombardi’s popular financial newsletters, including The China Letter, Special Situations, and Obscene Profits, among others. He has written technical and fundamental columns for numerous stock market news web sites, and he is the author of Quick Wealth Options Strategy and Mastering 7 Proven Options Strategies. Prior to starting with Lombardi Financial, George was employed as a financial analyst with Globe Information Services. Add George Leong to your Google+ circles