Has Jack in the Box Bitten Off More Than It Can Chew This Year?

JACK is up over 55% this quarter

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Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK) is a fast-food restaurant company that operates and franchises Jack in the Box restaurants, one of the largest hamburger chains in the U.S. with more than 2,200 restaurants in 21 states and Guam. Jack in the Box also owns Del Taco Restaurants after completing its acquisition for approximately $585 million earlier this year on March 8.

Jack in the Box announced a new program to incentivize franchisees to enter into a minimum three-unit development agreement earlier this month, which includes discounted royalty fees for new franchisees who maintain development compliance and sign at least three franchise agreements by March 2023. According to the fast-food company’s press release, the discounted royalty fees can result in savings of up to $180,000 within the first five years of operation.

While the stock has shed over 18% in the past 12 months, it's sprung to a 55.4% quarter-to-date lead, thanks to its impressive bounce off its June 30, two-year low of $54.80. JACK's bounce lost steam near a familiar ceiling at the $94 area, however, and now the stock is struggling to maintain its footing near its year-to-date breakeven level. 

Moreover, Jack in the Box stock trades at an intriguing forward price-earnings ratio of 13.46 and a price-sales ratio of 1.46. JACK also offers a dividend yield of 2.02% with a forward dividend of $1.76. In addition, the hamburger chain provides an attractive top line growth rate, having generated 54.5% annual revenue growth since fiscal 2018. The company is also estimated to report a 28.5% revenue increase for fiscal 2022 and a 15.4% revenue increase for fiscal 2023.

The fast-food business has struggled to replicate that level of success with its bottom line, reporting a 22.2% net income decrease for fiscal 2019 and a 5% net income decrease for fiscal 2020. JACK is also estimated to end fiscal 2022 with 18.9% decline in earnings. On top of that, Jack in the Box’s balance sheet presents a major risk for investors, holding just $65.86 million in cash and $3.18 billion in total debt, which is over a $1 billion more than the company’s market cap of $1.93 billion. This likely makes Jack in the Box stock far too big of a liability for fundamental-based investors. Still, JACK provides a viable option for growth investors looking to diversify their portfolios.


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