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A humorous look at the companies that caught our eye, for better or worse, this week.

Potbelly


PBPB (Nasdaq)

  Feb. 20, 2015 close: $15.34 (U.S.)
  up $1.42 or 10.2% over week

Names the company rejected before settling on Potbelly Sandwich Shop:

1) Big Hanging Gut Sandwich Shop;
2) Obesity Epidemic Sandwich Shop;
3) You Might Want to Wear a Shirt at the Beach Sandwich Shop.

Not that the suggestive name has hurt Potbelly’s sales: Shares of the restaurant chain – which actually serves healthy food options including sandwiches and salads – jumped after it posted better-than-expected revenue and profit for the fourth quarter. Investors are going back for seconds.

Rona


RON (TSX)

  Feb. 20, 2015 close: $14.36
  up $1.44 or 11.1% over week

A few years ago, owning shares of home improvements retailer Rona was about as much fun as dropping a load of lumber on your foot. But even as it faces intense competition from Home Depot and Lowe’s, Rona has fought back by cutting costs and closing unprofitable locations. With same-store retail sales growing 6 per cent in the fourth quarter and adjusted net income more than tripling to $17.3-million or 15 cents a share, investors can afford to hire someone else to do their stupid renovation.

Restaurant Brands


QSR (TSX)

  Feb. 20, 2015 close: $52.21
  up $3.96 or 8.2% over week

Things that haven’t changed at Tim Hortons since it merged with Burger King:

1) The ads are still lame;
2) The coffee is still mediocre;
3) The lineups are still long.

In fact, they might be getting longer: Helped by the launch of dark roast coffee and crispy chicken sandwiches, Tims’ same-store sales jumped 4.1 per cent in the fourth quarter while Burger King’s sales rose 3 per cent. With results like these, Tims clearly had no choice but to lay off hundreds of employees last month.

Jack in the Box


JACK (Nasdaq)

  Feb. 20, 2015 close: $97.99 (U.S.)
  up $10.87 or 12.5% over week

Why did the McDonald’s customer cross the road?
To get to Jack in the Box.

Even as Mickey D’s struggles to get people in the door, competitor Jack in the Box posted a 4.4-per-cent rise in same-store sales in its first quarter, lifted by all-day breakfast, improved burgers and a new late-night menu. With sales at the company’s Qboda Mexican Grill chain rising an even stronger 14 per cent, growing profits are on the menu for investors.

Rocket Fuel


FUEL (Nasdaq)

  Feb. 20, 2015 close: $10.82 (U.S.)
  down $3.48 or 24.3% over week

Houston, we have a problem. Shares of Rocket Fuel burst into flames after the digital advertising and marketing company reported a quarterly loss of $20.5-million, compared with a loss of $2.2-million in the year-ago period. Citing a stronger U.S. dollar, it posted revenue of $139.5-million – less than the $147-million analysts had expected. “Marketers and agencies continued to benefit from Rocket Fuel’s proven high performance solutions,” the company said. Investors? Not so much.

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