PHILADELPHIA – Hamburger chain Wendy's International Inc. (WEN) said Monday it would explore the possible sale of the company instead of other restructuring options.
Wendy's, which also lowered its 2007 earnings forecast, had said in April it would weigh options to boost strategic value, including a possible sale. The latest announcement shows that the fast-food chain sees a sale as more likely.
Shares of Wendy's, which has a market capitalization of about $3.5 billion, fell 2.5 percent.
Last month, Wendy's hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. as its financial advisers for a possible deal.
"Our goal is to move forward expeditiously," said Wendy's Chairman James Pickett.
The special committee of the board is also weighing a possible securitization financing, which could be used by the potential buyer or in a recapitalization of the company.
Highfields Capital Management, which owns 8.5 percent of Wendy's, last month urged the fast-food chain to sell itself to the highest bidder, according to media reports. Last year, Wendy's succumbed to pressure from billionaire investor Nelson Peltz to shed its secondary brands.
Wendy's Chief Executive Kerrii Anderson told analysts in April that the move to consider a strategic review or sale was driven by the board and was not her decision. Three of Wendy's board members were nominated by Peltz.
Wendy's is just one of several food companies on the block. Bar-and-grill chain Applebee's International Inc. (APPB) said in February that it was exploring a potential sale. Last week, shares of Applebee's rose amid media reports that pancake-house chain IHOP Corp. (IHP) had bid for the company.
Wendy's also lowered its 2007 earnings forecast to a range of $1.09 to $1.23 a share, from $1.26 to $1.32. It cited lower-than-planned same-store sales and higher-than-expected commodity costs for the reduced outlook.
The company said the past two months had been challenging, and it had adjusted its pricing to bring its products in line with rivals.
Due to the potential sale of the company, Wendy's suspended its earnings outlook for 2008 and 2009.
The company's shares were down $1 at $38.73 in morning New York Stock Exchange trade.