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And we might be one step closer to an unlimited soup, salad, and pizza lunch for $6.99. We'll explain. Papa John's (+8.98%) announced yesterday that it received a $200 millioninvestment from activist firm Starboard Value and welcomed three new directors to its board (including Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith, who will become chairman). How Papa John's got here For more than a year, the chain has struggled in the damage control department. Its founder/biggest shareholder, John Schnatter, became synonymous with controversy after making questionable comments about the NFL and using a racial slur. That's been tough on the books. Papa John's stock has tumbled close to 30% in a year. Plus, it reported stale preliminary Q4 financials yesterday, including an 8.1% decline in North American same-store sales and earnings on the lower end of previous guidance. So what makes Starboard the firm for the job? It's been in this biz before. Starboard became well-known following a 2014 coup for the entire board of Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants. Starboard encouraged Olive Garden to cut costs, up its tech game, serve fresher breadsticks, and (perhaps most notoriously) salt its pasta water. The results? Olive Garden became one of the best performing chains around. It's now delivered 17 consecutive quarters of comparable sales growth, and Darden shares soared to a record high last fall. Soundbite: "Securing this investment from Starboard is Papa John's biggest step yet away from the Schnatter era," wrote Bloomberg's Sarah Halzack. "Investors are right to reward the company for moving on." So what about Schnatter? He made a competing offer of up to $250 million after learning about the Starboard proposal, but the Papa John's board rejected it. As if on cue, Schnatter said Monday he's "evaluating the legal remedies available to him." All that's left for us to do? Convince Starboard that pizza is a round breadstick. via Morning Brew
via .ORGWorld News