Fast Food's Secret Sauce


Is it all about the secret sauce? Andrew Puzder, CKE Restaurants Chief Executive reveals why his company isn’t experiencing the same prosperity as some competitors.

Company Returns

Yum! Brands (YUM) up 26% YTD
McDonald’s (MCD) up 27% YTD
CKE Restaurants (CKR) down 14% YTD

Why aren’t you experiencing the same prosperity as your competitors?

“Historically, fast food does very well when the economy starts to go into a recession," says Puzder. “I think you’ll see the benefits across the board on a sales basis.”

He adds, “On a cost basis, there are cost pressures. Yum! and MCD have advantages with the currency exchange because they have bigger exposure overseas..."

Is the currency tailwind giving your competitors a huge boost?

“I think YUM is a good example of that,” replies Puzder. “In the United States they’re experiencing some weakness with Taco Bell and KFC but on a international basis they’re doing spectacularly well, particularly in China (because of the currency tailwind).”

He adds, “We have about 250 restaurants internationally and that’s a big area of growth for us, but it’s not nearly as big an area for us as it is for Yum and McDonald’s.”

Do you feel the need to focus more overseas?

“We’ve really grown our international business considerably over the last few years,” Puzder replies. “It is kind of a stealth part of the company that people haven’t paid much attention to yet. And we still continue to grow within the United States.”

Is McDonald’s a much tougher competitor?

“McDonald’s is a wonderful company. They do a great job but they have a different focus than we do,” explains Puzder. “They focus on women and kids and we focus on young hungry guys, 18-34 year old males. And you can’t be the place for women and families and be the place for young hungry guys so McDonald’s can do very well and so can we..”

He adds, “If you look at same store sales growth Hardees, McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. are at the top of the industry over the last 6 years and I think that’s because we have a different focus.”

What are you doing with the extra money on your balance sheet?

“We’ve already bought back a considerable amount of our stock.. and we have a capital expansion plan,” says Puzder. "We are spending the money very much to the benefit of our shareholders.”

Dylan Ratigan asks the panel what they think of this stock.

Pete Najarian likes it. Karen Finerman wants to hear more.


Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at fastmoney-web@cnbc.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! Prefer to keep it between us? You can still send questions and comments to fastmoney@cnbc.com.