Sardar Biglari has this week snapped up more than 500,000 shares of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, moves that have lifted his stake to the highest it can be without triggering Cracker Barrel's poison pill.
Entities controlled by Texas-based Biglari spent $31.6 million to buy their newest shares, lifting their total investment in Lebanon-based Cracker Barrel to $250 million. Based on Cracker Barrel's Thursday closing price (Ticker: CBRL) of $63.09, Biglari's 19.99 percent stake is now worth $299 million. It's also only a shade below the 20 percent threshold Cracker Barrel's board set in April as it sought to limit his influence and his potential ability to buy the entire company.
Biglari last month lost a second bid to get a seat at the Cracker Barrel directors' table, getting less support from other shareholders than a year ago. The CEO of Biglari Holdings, which operates a number of other restaurant concepts, has repeatedly said he intends to be a long-term holder of Cracker Barrel shares and will give investors a heads up should he decide to sell some or all of his stake.
Cracker Barrel shares have risen 25 percent in 2012 and more than 40 percent since Biglari first declared a large stake in the company in May of last year. During his acrimonious battle with Cracker Barrel's board, Biglari took some of the credit for that rise, saying President and CEO Sandy Cochran and her team had adopted several of his proposed initiatives.