Why Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. Stock Popped Today

By Steve Symington Markets Fool.com

What happened

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Shares of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. (NASDAQ: PLKI) were up 19.1% as of 1:10 p.m. EST after the chicken-centric fast food chain agreed to be acquired by Burger King parentRestaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR).

So what

More specifically, Restaurant Brands International will acquire Popeyes for $79.00 per share in cash, or roughly $1.8 billion. That's a premium of 27% over Popeyes' unaffected 30-trading day volume weighted average price as of Feb. 10, 2017, the last day before media reports surfaced regarding a potential deal.

Image source: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.

Now what

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Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder elaborated:

I am proud of the superior results the Popeyes team has delivered in recent years; they have served all stakeholders well. As Popeyes enters its 45th year, its success reflects the amazing brand entrusted to us by founder Al Copeland, Sr. and the unique high trust partnership that we enjoy with our franchise owners. RBI has observed our success and seen the opportunity for exceptional future unit growth in the U.S. and around the world. The result is a transaction that delivers immediate and certain value to the Popeyes shareholders.

Popeyes understandably canceled its fiscal fourth-quarter 2016 earnings conference call, which was slated for later this week, but still plans to file its 2016 results and annual report with the SEC tomorrow after the market closes.

As it stands, the acquisition is still subject to regulatory and other customary closing conditions, but it's expected to close in early April 2017. Given the healthy premium at which it came, I don't see much preventing that from happening. So with shares currently trading just pennies below the agreed acquisition price -- and unless holding until closer to the acquisition's close would result in more favorable long-term capital gains tax treatment -- I think Popeyes shareholders would be wise to take their profits and put them to work elsewhere.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.