Analyst Sees Cheesecake, California Pizza As Buyout Targets

In a series of Wall Street Transcript interviews found on Yahoo Finance, we took note of some interesting comments regarding the restaurant sector.

We were especially intrigued by a portion of an interview with KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Lynne Collier saying that California Pizza Kitchen and Cheesecake Factory are two chains that private-equity firms could show interest in buying in the coming year. “I think the M&A activity will pick up,” she is quoted as saying. “It depends on the credit markets, of course, but I expect to see more and more of this.”

Collier points out that both chains are trading well below their historical values. Cheesecake was trading as low as $17.24 this week compared to a 52-week high of $29.78. California Pizza had dropped to $9.32, compared with $25.23. However, not surprisingly, both stocks have gone up since the report’s release.

While it’s not a restaurant chain, it looks like private-equity firm Catterton Partners is close to grabbing Restoration Hardware for $179 million.

Do you think that private-equity firms will continue their fast pace of acquiring restaurant and retail companies this year? Or will a tough economy dissuade those outfits from making plays in the industry?

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