Monday, June 12, 2006

Blog of the Week: Catablast

Cold Stone Creamery: IPO in the Making?

The hardest part about being obsessively in love with business and stocks is having to deal with privately held companies. By that we mean this: you visit a business. You like what you see. You feel good inside. Now you want to find out how the firm is doing in a strictly economical sense -- does the company make money? How much in annual sales? Does it throw off cash? Does it grow organically or does it buy sales? Who runs the show, some freshly minted MBA or a seasoned vet? Are they operating in Montana or Mumbai?

Alas, you arrive home to your 6 monitors and ThompsonONE/Bloomberg setup, only to discover that your new obsession is privately owned. Having encountered a dearth of information, you catch a case of the business blues.

Case in point: Cold Stone Creamery. The ice cream shop was founded in 1988 by the Sutherland family. The company now owns 1,000 different stores in 47 states. Each Cold Stone Creamery is privately owned, with each owner setting his/her own catering policy. The concept is unique, we think: Cold Stone is all about ice cream that is “smooth and creamy”, rather than the traditional hard-packed or soft-serve varieties. Using only the finest ingredients, Cold Stone produces the high quality ice cream, made fresh each day in their store. Every ice cream creation...

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