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Turnaround Stories: One Year Later at Cosi and Krispy Kreme

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Nearly a year ago, I wrote a column entitled Turnaround Stories From Smallville which focused on two names that were showing some positive signs. In the markets, a lot can happen over the course of a year, and that has certainly been the case for the companies featured in that column, Krispy Kreme (KKD - Get Report) and Cosi (COSI - Get Report). During that time, however, their paths have been very different.

Formerly troubled doughnut maker Krispy Kreme, has all but re-entered the mainstream, after being abandoned by investors in the mid-2000s. The company got what it deserved at that time. After attaining cult-stock status following its 2000 IPO, Krispy Kreme nearly imploded due to over-expansion, poor management, and accounting issues. After closing stores, and losing money for five consecutive years, the company broke even in 2010, and has been making solid progress ever since. This time around, however, much of the company's growth is via international franchising.

Krispy Kreme has been delivering very solid results, and same store sales growth, and shares, which have risen more than 250% since last August, now trade at a nine year high. A once skeptical Wall Street, at least when I started taking a position, is now falling in love with the company all over again. For a value investor, that is actually a scary prospect, and may mean that the "easy" money -- if there is such a thing -- has already been made, at least in the near term. I am the first to admit that in these turnaround situations, when successful, I tend to be early to the party, and early to leave. While I still maintain a Krispy Kreme position, I have also written call options against that position, so there's a good chance my shares will be called away, unless I intervene. Nonetheless, it's been a great run. KKD Chart KKD data by YCharts

Small restaurant chain Cosi, on the other hand, has taken a different path. Last year at this time, the company had just reported its first ever profitable quarter, remarkable given the fact that it has been publicly traded for 11 years. Cosi had altered its very complicated menu, was attempting to cut costs, and had also completed a rights offering to raise cash. However, further progress has not materialized, and it's been a rough year. Following last year's profitable second quarter, the company has been back in the red ever since. In May, Cosi commenced a 1 for 4 reverse stock split in order to get its share price back above $1 to remain listed on NASDAQ. The following month, new CEO Carin Stutz resigned after just 18 months on the job. COSI Chart COSI data by YCharts
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