San Diego-headquartered Jack in the Box Inc., a national hamburger fast-food chain with over 2,000 restaurants, is mulling over the possibility of selling the company, Reuters reports. According to the outlet, the company is in talks with potential buyers, including a private equity firm.
When reached, a Jack in the Box rep said the company doesn't comment on rumors.
This follows Jack in the Box’s sale of Qdoba fast-casual food chain earlier this year to private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC for $305 million.
Jack in the Box has made other headlines as of late. In October, the national Jack in the Box Franchisee Association asked for the termination of Jack in the Box CEO Leonard "Lenny" Comma, and the current leadership team, following a vote of "no confidence." A few weeks later, New York-based hedge fund, Jana Partners disclosed it had trimmed its holdings in Jack in the Box, down to 1,831,007 shares from 2,050,325 shares during the second quarter. The activist investor also signed a confidentiality and standstill agreement in which the hedge fund agreed to keep confidential certain business information regarding the chain restaurant. The agreement expires on Dec. 14 unless the two parties terminate it sooner. And, just earlier this month, Jack in the Box announced plans to lay off 66 corporate employees as of Jan. 4, partially due contractual agreements to support Qdoba terminating at the end of this year.
During a recent call with investors on a fourth quarter earnings, Comma said, "Our sales performance has been very consistent, fiscal 2018 marking the eight straight year of the system same-store sales growth at Jack in the Box... 2018 was our fifth consecutive year of returning more than $300 million to the shareholders via stock buybacks and dividends which have totaled nearly $1.8 billion over those 5 years. Once our new capital structure is in place later this year, we expect to return more than $1 billion to shareholders through 2022 in the form of share purchases and dividends."
Jack in the Box's Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Lance Tucker added that in the fourth quarter, the company franchised eight units, for a total of 135 franchises in 2018, or 94 percent franchised.
Jack in the Box's shares rose 6.6 percent to $89.14, giving it a market capitalization of $2.3 billion. Jack in the Box beat revenue estimates in its two most recent earnings quarters, following a string of misses.