For a brief moment in June, the Reddit trader army set its sights on Wendy’s (NASDAQ:WEN) stock. Chalk it up to an inside joke among r/WallStreetBets subreddit posters. Or perhaps a love of the fast food chain’s chicken sandwiches motivated the meme crowd.
But, whatever the reason was, the short-lived rip, which took WEN stock from $23 to as much as $29.46, has come and gone. I think that another “Reddit raid” of the shares is unlikely.
Since not many of the shares are sold short and the Reddit crowd quickly lost interest in the name, the short-lived parabolic move it made early last month is likely to be a one-time event.
There are other reasons why Wendy’s shares could be appealing to investors. Others have pointed to the company’s growth in general and the increases in its earnings in particular as key reasons why the shares can move higher. Yet, given their current valuation, these catalysts may already factored into the stock price.
But I don’t think that the shares, whose valuation is in-line with their peers, are necessarily poised to tumble. Even if the stock markets remain strong and head to new highs, however, in the near-term Wendy’s advances may be limited.
Don’t Count on Another “Reddit Raid” to Send WEN Stock Higher
Recently “meme stocks” rallied again. It’s unclear whether another rally will materialize soon. But that hasn’t stopped some traders from holding onto names, such as Clover Health (NASDAQ:CLOV), ContextLogic (NASDAQ:WISH), and Workhorse Group (NASDAQ:WKHS), that performed well during the last wave.
WEN stock was another name that got a boost during the last advance. But, unlike other Reddit favorites, a large percentage of its shares are not being sold short.
Since only 3.7% of Wendy’s float is sold short, a short squeeze isn’t going to lift its stock price. Also, as I noted above, the current lack of chatter about this stock doesn’t bode well for its chances of going on another “Reddit rally.”
Wendy’s doesn’t even appear on a tracker of the most-discussed stocks on r/WallStreetBets. Putting it simply, even if the Reddit madness returns for yet another round, the chances are slim that this stock will join in on the fun.
The Shares Are Fairly Valued
Wendy’s “meme-stock status” came and went like a one-hit wonder. But the company’s growth may give investors a reason to bid up the stock well above today’s levels. Last quarter, the reopening of the economy lifted the chain’s U.S. same-store sales by 13.5% year-over-year.
Boosted by factors like the company’s continued global expansion, the growth of Wendy’s revenue and earnings could help to gradually move the needle for WEN stock. But the shares’ valuation already reflects such growth.
Wendy’s forward price-earnings (P/E) ratio is 31.65 times. That’s well above the forward multiples of the company’s peers like McDonalds (NYSE:MCD), which sports a forward P/E ratio of 27 times.
With analysts, on average, expecting Wendy’s earnings to climb 14.9% in 2022, one could say that it deserves its premium valuation. Yet Restaurant Brands (NYSE:QSR), whose bottom line analysts, on average, expect to jump 31.6% this year, has a forward P/E ratio of 24 times.
The Bottom Line
Wendys’ premium forward multiple may stay steady. In light of its aforementioned strong growth outlook, the stock may grow into its valuation. Yet that may just be another way of saying, “at best, it’ll hold steady.”
Wendy’s strong prospects are fully priced into its shares. The odds of another “Reddit raid” lifting WEN stock are slimmer than for other “meme stocks.”
Don’t expect big gains in the coming months by Wendy’s stock. It may continue to deliver strong returns over the long-term. But, in the near-term, expect it to hold steady between $20 and $25.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Thomas Niel, a contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.