Prudential Starts Wendy's with 'Buy'

Analyst Larry Miller sees a rebound in store sales, and a boost from the Baja casual-food chain

Prudential initiates coverage of Wendy's International (WEN ) with buy.

Analyst Larry Miller says he sees comparison-store sales at Wendy's rebounding in the second-half of the year (up 3% to 5%), and into 2004 (up 4%). He says his outlook reflects easier comparison-store sales, fewer external pressures, and a better mix and pricing.

Miller thinks investors may be mistaking the forest for the trees with the Baja chain -- it's less than 5% of sales, it's a fast, casual-food chain that's more cyclical than fast food, and like other Wendy's chains, Baja doesn't discount -- making it less susceptible to economic downturns. Longer term, thinks Baja is trend-right, fundamentally strong, and a future growth engine for Wendy's. Miller sets a $38 12-month target.

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