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R.J. Hottovy

R.J. Hottovy

R.J. Hottovy, CFA, is a consumer strategist for Morningstar Research Services LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. He is responsible for consumer discretionary and staples research. He has covered the consumer sector as an analyst and director of global consumer equity research for Morningstar since joining the company in 2008, and specializes in a broad range of consumer categories including restaurants, footwear and apparel retailers, consumer electronics retailers, fitness clubs, home improvement and furnishing retailers, and consumer product manufacturers.

Before joining Morningstar, Hottovy was a director and senior stock analyst for Next Generation Equity and an analyst for William Blair & Co., specializing in a wide range of retail and consumer product companies. He also spent two years at Deutsche Bank, covering waste management, water utilities, and equipment rental stocks.

Hottovy holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a second degree in computer applications from the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated magna cum laude. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Chicago.

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Though it has improved its competitive position more than many retailers, the firm will continue to face pressure from Amazon on many of its product and service initiatives, limiting growth and margin expansion potential.

While it is hard to handicap if a deal will happen, there has been an uptick in restaurant M&A in the last few months and it's easy to see that Panera would be an attractive target.

An acquirer would probably be attracted to the narrow-moat company's industry-leading loyalty program engagement and digital sales penetration, expanding delivery capabilities, a growing at-home business, and a potential refranchising/leveraged recap play.