Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.’s (DNKN) unit Dunkin’ said on Monday its franchisees are seeking to hire up to 25,000 workers as it braces for higher demand in view of more U.S. states reopening following months of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Shares rose 3.5% to $70.74 in midday U.S. trading. Dunkin’, which now has about 90% of its restaurants open, said it looks to fill jobs from front-counter to management positions, creating immediate jobs that offer long-term education benefits and key career skills for people across the U.S.
The doughnut chain said it is starting a new partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to offer an online college education to franchise employees, while also launching its first-ever national advertisement campaign in English and Spanish aimed at recruitment.
Through the partnership with SNHU, Dunkin’ will offer low-cost college degrees to its independent franchisees and their employees. SNHU is a private, non-profit, accredited institution with more than 135,000 students online and on campus.
As one of the first restaurant chains to close its dining rooms during the pandemic, the doughnut chain said its restaurants now have implemented enhanced safety standards and measures, beginning with social distancing and required hygiene training, followed quickly by distribution of single-use gloves, face masks, and plexiglass shields for each restaurant’s front counter.
Grappling with pandemic-related restaurant closures and declining sales, shares in Dunkin’ have been on a bumpy road this year plunging to a multi-year low in March. Although the stock has since recovered some of its losses, it is still down about 11% year-to-date.
The hiring news prompted Keybanc analyst Eric Gonzalez to upgrade the stock to Buy from Hold with a $78 price target (reflecting 11% upside potential), saying that “Dunkin’ has executed well during the pandemic.”
“We believe trusted brands like Dunkin’ with advertising scale, digital ordering, and strong customer loyalty will be in the best position to recoup guest counts as the country reopens,” Gonzalez wrote in a note to investors.
Overall, Wall Street analysts are cautiously optimistic on the stock. The Moderate Buy analyst consensus is made up of 13 Hold ratings and 8 Buys. Meanwhile, the analyst average price target stands at $66.53, indicating 5.9% downside potential lies ahead, following the recent rally. (See Dunkin’ stock analysis on TipRanks).
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