Cramer often talks about understanding trends as an important component of investing. If you're looking to put money behind the natural food trend, Cramer thinks Zoe's Kitchen bears watching.
The Texas-based restaurant chain sells Mediterranean food, and by serving items such as Greek salad, tabouli, and hummus, Zoe's has tapped into the fresh and natural food zeitgeist.
"Now, before I go any further, let me make one thing very clear. I am not recommending Zoe's right here. I am not calling it a buy."
It's simply that Cramer believes investors must always do research. And after crunching some numbers, Cramer thinks this company may have strong potential.
What does Cramer like?
Following are some of the more important metrics he said to watch. (And for the sake of context, Cramer also provided similar metrics from Chipotle, when it was in early stages of growth.)
Average unit volumes: "Average unit volumes refers to the average annual sales for restaurants that have been open at least six months. Right now Zoe's has an average-unit volume of $1.5 million, which is pretty darned impressive. Back when Chipotle had only 100 or so stores, their average unit volumes were roughly half of what Zoe's is producing today."
New store growth: When Chipotle came public in 2006, the company was increasing its store count at a 19 percent annual clip. Last year Zoe's increased its store-count by 36 percent, an increase from its 32 to 33 percent growth in 2011 and 2012. And the company expects to grow by 25 percent in 2015, and 20 percent in 2016. If Zoe's can deliver on those forecasts, it will be able to double its footprint in roughly three years. That would be incredible."
Total size of opportunity: Zoe's says they're looking to open a total of 1,600 locations, a sharp increase from their current store count of 114. "However, it's worth mentioning that Zoe's 1,600 target is far from a hard ceiling. These are 1,600 very specific locations that management has identified through a strict analysis of trade areas, demographics, competitor dynamics and real estate availability. If anything, 1,600 stores could ultimately be a floor for Zoe's, not a ceiling." According to the website Statista, Chipotle already has about 1600 stores, and Cramer says it's targeting 2,500 to 4,500 total.
Same store sales: Zoe's released a preliminary second-quarter update showing that their same store sales increased by 7.3 to 7.5 percent. "Chipotle showed a 17 percent same store sales gain in its latest quarter. And when Chipotle came public in 2006 it posted a 19.7 percent increase right out of the gate.
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All told, Cramer sees every reason to put this stock on your radar. "Zoe's has the potential to be a very good stock."
However, if you're intrigued and thinking about establishing a small position, Cramer added "shares have gained 10 percent in only 5 days. I wouldn't even think about touching it until next week, at the earliest. And it's only for speculation.The track record of most restaurant stocks that have come public in the last few years is nothing to write home about, especially when there is a lot of insider selling as there is with this one right now."
Also, if you're wondering if Zoe's could be the next Chipotle, Cramer said watch same-store sales figures, very carefully. "As it stands now, Zoe's may have a strong concept with excellent unit growth, but they're not generating Chipotle style same store sales figures." That, he says, the Street will notice.
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