William Baumhauer: Man With The Golden Burger?

Can the man from Fuddruckers save the Planet? William Baumhauer, who on July 27 jumped from Unique Casual Restaurants, parent of the Fuddruckers chain, to be president and COO of Planet Hollywood International alongside CEO Robert Earl, has his work cut out for him.

Profits at the star-studded restaurant chain tumbled 92% in the first quarter, to $894,000, due to increased competition and slower sales of souvenir items. Planet Hollywood is slowing its expansion plans and has hired bankers to explore options. Its stock is trading at around $6 a share, down from a peak of 28 1/2 in 1996. "The company still has to demonstrate that it's going to be a success before Wall Street reacts," says Arnold Ursaner, an analyst at CJS Securities.

Baumhauer, 50, says he'll win over the Street; his compensation will be mainly in stock options. In his 15 years running Fuddruckers, he doubled the chain, to 200 restaurants, and in 1996 was cited for outstanding achievement in food service by an industry group.