Value Investors Should Consider Adding Denny's Stock

DENN is one of the few value plays still left after the March crash

Nov 17, 2020 at 10:03 AM
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Restaurant chain Denny’s Corporation (NYSE:DENN) now operates in more than 1,700 locations all over the world. Most restaurant stocks suffered significantly from the March coronavirus crash, but most have also recovered at this point. While Denny’s has been able to shift its business to delivery and carry-out successfully in 2020, DENN is still trailing its restaurant stock peers. 

Denny's stock is down about 45% year-to-date but has more than doubled from its March lows. However, the shares have recently seen their recovery stunted by their overhead 200-day moving average, despite many of its competitors nearly reaching or even surpassing their pre-COVID stock prices. So while Denny’s stock is significantly off its March 19 seven-year lows of $4.50, at its current perch of $10.75, it still has some work to do to attain its pre-pandemic levels near $22.

A short squeeze can help DENN reach those heights again. Short sellers built their positions by 47.8% in the most recent reporting period, and the 4.36 million shares sold short accounts for a healthy 7.3% of the stock's total available float. At DENN's average pace of trading, it would take shorts three days to buy back their bearish bets.

Options traders will be pleased to know DENN premium is affordably priced. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 67% stands higher than just 23% of all other readings in its annual range, implying that options players are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment. 

As far as earnings goes, Denny’s has beat earnings expectations on three of its four most recent earnings reports. In the fourth quarter of 2019, Denny's beat expectations by $0.06, reporting an earnings per share (EPS) of $0.23. To kick off 2020, Denny's dropped its EPS to $0.17 in the first quarter, still beating expectations by a margin of $0.06. The company, again, dropped its reported EPS in the second quarter of 2020. This time, the drop was much more drastic and fell all the way to a reported EPS of $0.06. Though expectations were bleak for Denny's most recent quarterly report, the company reported a positive EPS of $0.01 instead of the expected -$0.03 loss. Denny's beat its earnings target by $0.04.

All fundamental signs seem to point toward a recovery for Denny’s stock in the coming years. Although the company’s 2019 revenue was weak compared to growth documented in previous years, Denny’s had an amazing 2019 fiscal year in terms of net income. In 2019, Denny's nearly tripled its net profits produced as compared to its 2018 net income. As a reaction to the pandemic, Denny’s has been able to shift its business to delivery and carry-out successfully in 2020. Despite a huge decline in revenue over the past 12 months, Denny’s has the potential now to end the year in the profit zone. This is a major achievement when considering how dependent Denny's had previously been on its dine-in restaurant experience. 

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