Friday, January 06, 2012

Would you like a stock certificate with that?

Tonight, on my way home from a meeting that ran past 10 pm, I stopped at Wendy's and ordered the #1 combo - cheeseburger, fries and soft drink. I pulled out $6, thinking that would be enough. But the total was $6.10. Oh well - not an issue. A half hour later, at home, I was contentedly munching and drinking.

I can't say that I love Wendy's, but I generally trust Wendy's. It has become a reliable part of my life: wherever I am, I can generally find a Wendy's, and get something decent (not great, but decent) for an affordable price.

The fact that the #1 combo starts with a cheeseburger represents a change that I noticed a couple of months ago: plain burgers are no longer on the menu. They may still be available, but they aren't advertised. I imagine that replacing regular burgers with cheeseburgers accounts for a price increase, because I'm sure that the #1 combo used to be less than $6.10.

Still, $6.10 is not a high enough price to drive me away. Even with the cheeseburger, the #1 combo is affordable.

A few minutes ago, out of curiosity, I looked up the share price for The Wendy's Company (stock symbol: WEN). Guess what? The Wendy's Company is even more affordable than its #1 combo. The share price closed yesterday at $5.37.

Which leads to this gross generalization: if you can afford Wendy's #1 combo, you can afford to invest.

You know what I think? I think that Wendy's should have a sign next to their menu showing their share price. So should McDonald's ($99.82. SERIOUSLY??). And Yum!, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W ($59.42 - Wendy's is looking better and better).

In fact, I propose that every retailer in America, whether of fast food, slow food (Darden, parent of Longhorn and Olive Garden, among others: $45.01), clothing (Men's Wearhouse: $32.94), cars (Honda Motor Corporation: $31.88) or car parts (AutoZone: $333.85 - yikes!), have somewhere on its premises, in plain view of customers, a continually updating display of its company share price. If people simply became aware of the connection between their everyday lives and investment opportunities, it might help produce what one brokerage claimed they want to produce, in their commercials a couple of years ago: smarter investors.

Meanwhile, I'm going to investigate Wendy's to see whether $5.37 per share is a bargain or not. If I figure that it's actually worth $5.37, then, "Meh." AutoZone may actually turn out to be a better deal, if it's worth more than $333.85. I only want to pay $5.37 per share for Wendy's if I'm convinced that it's worth at least $10 now, and likely to be worth even more later. The only reason to buy shares of a company is to gain the ability to sell them later for a profit.

After all, I sure can't eat them.
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