II. Deluxe Chicken Inc. (INDIVIDUAL Report only, 50 points)
Deluxe Chicken (DC) was established in 1989 by Sebastian Bony. It sells delicious rotisserie-cooked chicken with fresh vegetables and other side dishes through its own stores and franchisee stores, just like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). According to Seb, DC’s strategy is to be “a home meal replacement” in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions. DC went through an impressive expansion. At the end of 1991, the firm operated only 34 stores, with no franchisee stores. But by the end of 1994, the total of stores (company-owned stores and franchise stores) had increased to 534 (491 were franchise stores). It was estimated that DC’s franchise store can easily break even if its weekly average revenue per store is higher than $23,000. According to Reuters, its stock price had risen steadily from $8 in November 1993 to $23 in March 1997.
DC’s auditor is a prestigious Big-8 accounting firm, Firehouse Young LLP. The 1994 and 1995 fiscal year financial statements below were all audited numbers, but the 1996 numbers were unaudited.
DC’s excellent performance also impressed the Street. Stock analyst Mike Foster of Silverman Sterling forecasted that DC’s EPS would grow at an annual rate of around 35% between 1997 and 2001 and gave a “strong buy” rating. It was rumored that the wealth management division of Mohan Stanley took a passive 3% stake in this firm. Many hedge funds followed the rumor and added DC’s shares to their portfolios.
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