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A Barrel of Buybacks

If the market suffers a downturn like Cramer said it could, at least one buyer will be swallowing up Cracker Barrel shares on the cheap – and that’s Cracker Barrel. Investors might to do the same.

The restaurant chain has bought back 54% of its shares in the last 18 months, and it just announced a buyback for another million shares.

“Cracker Barrel is just gobbling itself up, and the stock is not getting enough credit for the fact,” Cramer said.

Cracker Barrel beat the earnings estimates last week thanks to that buyback, and it issued guidance above consensus estimates as well. The company also boosted its dividend, which is something Cramer always said is a sign of strength. After all, no one decides to pay out more to shareholders unless business is good.

Of course, Cramer wouldn’t recommend a stock unless the fundamentals were sound, and CBRL qualifies. Cracker Barrel executed a big reorganization last year. It paid of $189 million of convertible bonds and used the money to buy back an additional 400,000 shares of common stock. And it sold off a weak subsidiary, Logan’s Roadhouse. Operational efficiency has also become a priority for Cracker Barrel. The restaurant revamped the menu with higher-margin and more easily prepared foods.

The bottom line, though, is that it’s the buyback that has Cramer crazy about Cracker Barrel.

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