Ruby Tuesday Looks to Climb With New CEO
Shares of restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday (NYSE: RT) rose on Monday after the company announced that it had completed its five-month search for a new CEO with the hiring of James "J.J." Buettgen, a Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) executive.
Buettgen held the title of senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Darden, a position which he resigned on Monday to take the top spot at the Maryville, Tennessee-based restaurant company. He will begin his role as CEO effective December 1.
Sandy Beall, the founder of Ruby Tuesday, is stepping down after 40 years. He had previously said that he hoped a successor would be found prior to Thanksgiving. The chairman of the board position will be taken over by Matthew Drapkin, a lead director and partner at investment firm Becker Drapkin Management.
In taking the job, Buettgen said, "It is an honor to lead Ruby Tuesday, and I am excited to join the company and work with the seasoned management team and dedicated team members to create value for our shareholders. I believe this will be an exciting period of growth for the company and I am eager to begin."
While the company is known primarily for its Ruby Tuesday concept, it has recently been expanding with seafood chain Marlin & Ray's and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, which was acquired in April. Buettgen is likely a good fit to oversee expansion efforts. At Darden, he was the chief marketing officer for a company with multiple successful concepts such as Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse.
Buetggen holds a bachelor's degree in finance from Miami University and an MBA from UCLA. Prior to his time at Darden, he was the president of Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and also held positions at Disneyland Resorts, Brinker International (NYSE: EAT), the owner of Chilli's and Maggiano's restaurant concepts, and General Mills (NYSE: GIS).
At Ruby Tuesday, the executive will certainly have his work cut out for him. The company is small, with a market cap of under $500 million and revenue has remained stagnant in recent years. Ruby Tuesday was also badly hurt by the financial crisis and has been unable to gain any real momentum since.
The stock traded between $20.00 and $30.00 between 2003 and mid-2007 prior to the market collapse. In 2009, RT traded as low as $1.14. Today, the stock is sitting at $7.50, having fallen around 51 percent over the last 5 years and 58 percent over the last 10 years. In 2012, the shares have risen a little less than 9 percent, underperforming the S&P 500.
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