Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, of course. Burger King sees McRib mania and responds with the BK BBQ Rib sandwich for just a buck. You like a Big Mac? Wait until you try the "Big King," which looks exactly like it. Why reinvent the wheel--er, French Fry? Oh but wait, BK did reinvent that. Burger King doesn't just imitate its lordly rival, it innovates too: just when you thought the last way to appeal to someone who customarily eats from a paper bag was to boast about your healthy options, BK's Satisfries ("40% less fat, 30% fewer calories than the leading French fries") made a whole bunch of new, skinnier friends. (And less guilty parents, natch.) Those "leading French fries" are you-know-who's, by the way. McDonald's popular Spicy Chicken Sandwich? BK launched one. Someone at Burger King finally stood up in a marketing meeting and screamed the old business cliche: This ain't rocket science!
Burger King is redesigning the stores too. Guess what they look like. Congratulations if you said McDonald's--you win yourself some Satisfries. CEO Daniel Schwartz is running this turnaround and he thinks 2013 was an "important year for Burger King Worldwide." The company is refranchising hundreds of its corporate-owned stores and expanding around the globe, notably in France (where McDonald's is strong) and India. Burger King even authorized a seven cent per share dividend for the first quarter 2014, which means if you own only a few dozen share you can have a virtual feast at BK the night the check comes in. This time last year those shares would have cost you less than $19 each; today you could sell them for more than $27. Now if Burger King only comes up with a pretzel bun, Wendy's could also be in its regal, hungry path. And Burger King is, despite its name, now putting some serious emphasis on chicken, so another big rival, KFC, could soon find itself imitated--that is, flattered--too.
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