Nathan's Famous, Inc. (NATH) - Description of business

Company Description
Opportunity Ventures” (the “FTC Rule”) requires us to disclose certain information to prospective franchisees. Fifteen states, including New York, also require similar disclosure. While the FTC rule does not require registration or filing of the disclosure document, fourteen states require franchisors to register the disclosure document (or obtain exemptions from that requirement) before offering or selling a franchise. The laws of seventeen other states require some form of registration under “business opportunity” laws, which sometimes apply to franchisors such as the franchisor of the Nathan’s Famous, Miami Subs, Kenny Rogers Roasters and Arthur Treacher’s franchise systems. Laws that regulate one or another aspect of the franchisor-franchisee relationship presently exist in twenty-one states and the District of Columbia. These laws regulate the franchise relationship by, for example, requiring the franchisor to deal with its franchisees in good faith, prohibiting interference with the right of free association among franchisees, limiting the imposition of standards of performance on a franchisee, and regulating discrimination among franchisees in charges, royalties or fees. These laws have not precluded us from seeking franchisees in any given area. Although these laws may also restrict a franchisor in the termination of a franchise agreement by, for example, requiring “good cause” to exist as a basis for the termination, advance notice to the franchisee of the termination, an opportunity to cure a default and repurchase of inventory or other compensation, these provisions have not had a significant effect on our operations. We are not aware of any pending franchise legislation in the U.S. that we believe is likely to significantly affect our operations. Each Company-owned and franchised restaurant is subject to regulation as to operational matters by federal agencies and to licensing and regulation by state and local health, sanitation, safety, fire and other departments. Difficulties or failures in obtaining the required licenses or approvals could delay or prevent the opening of a new restaurant. We are also subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs minimum wages, overtime, working conditions and other matters. We are also subject to federal and state environmental regulations, which have not had a material effect on our operations. More stringent and varied requirements of local governmental bodies with respect to zoning, land use and environmental factors could delay or prevent development of new restaurants in particular locations. In addition, the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) applies with respect to the design, construction and renovation of all restaurants in the United States. Compliance with the ADA’s requirements could delay or prevent the development of, or renovations to, restaurants in certain locations, as well as add to the cost of such development or renovation. Each company that manufactures, supplies or sells our products is subject to regulation by federal agencies and to licensing and regulation by state and local health, sanitation, safety and other departments. Difficulties or failures by these companies in obtaining the required licenses or approvals could adversely affect our revenue that is generated from these companies. Alcoholic beverage control regulations require each restaurant that sells such products to apply to a state authority and, in certain locations, county and municipal authorities, for a license or permit to sell alcoholic beverages on the premises. Typically, licenses must be renewed annually and may be revoked or suspended for cause at any time. Alcoholic beverage control regulations relate to numerous aspects of the daily operations of the restaurants, including minimum age of customers and employees, hours of operation, advertising, wholesale purchasing, inventory control and handling, storage and dispensing of alcoholic beverages. At March 26, 2006, we offered for sale beer or wine in two of our existing Company-operated restaurants. Each of these restaurants has current alcoholic beverage licenses permitting the sale of these beverages. We have never had an alcoholic beverage license revoked. We may be subject in certain states to "dram-shop" statutes, which generally provide a person injured by an intoxicated person the right to recover damages from an establishment which wrongfully served alcoholic beverages to such person. We carry liquor liability coverage as part of our existing comprehensive general liability insurance and have never been named as a defendant in a lawsuit involving "dram-shop" statutes. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and rules promulgated thereunder by the SEC and the Nasdaq Stock Market have imposed substantial new or enhanced regulations and disclosure requirements in the areas of corporate governance (including director independence, director selection and audit, corporate governance and compensation committee responsibilities), equity compensation plans, auditor independence, pre-approval of auditor fees and services and disclosure and internal control procedures. We are committed to industry best practices in these areas. We believe that we operate in substantial compliance with applicable laws and regulations governing our operations, including the FTC Rule and state franchise laws. Employees At March 26, 2006, we had 216 employees, 50 of whom were corporate management and administrative employees, 24 of whom were restaurant managers and 142 of whom were hourly full-time and part-time food-service employees. We may also employ as many as 200 seasonal employees during the summer months. Food-service employees at four locations are currently represented by Local 1102 RWSDU UFCW AFL-CIO, CLC, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, under agreement that expires in June 2006. We executed a new agreement through June 2010 and do not expect that the new agreement will significantly effect our results of operations or financial position. We consider our employee relations to be good and have not suffered any strike or work stoppage for more than 34 years. We provide a training program for managers and assistant managers of our new Company-owned and franchised restaurants. Hourly food workers are trained on site by managers and crew trainers following Company practices and procedures outlined in our operating manuals. Trademarks      We hold trademark and service mark registrations for NATHAN’S FAMOUS, NATHAN’S and Design, NATHAN’S FAMOUS SINCE 1916 and SINCE 1916 NATHAN’S FAMOUS within the United States, with some of these marks holding corresponding foreign trademark and service mark registrations in more than 20 jurisdictions. We also hold various related marks for restaurant services and some food items. We have registered the marks "MIAMI SUBS AND DESIGN” and “MIAMI SUBS GRILL AND DESIGN” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In addition, the marks have been registered in numerous foreign countries. We have also filed the MIAMI SUBS PLUS trademark on February 15, 2001 and an Amendment to Alleged Use on May 21, 2001. The MIAMI SUBS PLUS application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office became effective on September 10, 2002. We hold trademark and service mark registrations for “KENNY ROGERS ROASTERS”, “KENNY ROGERS ROASTERS WOOD FIRE ROASTED CHICKEN & DESIGN”, “ DOWN RIGHT KICKIN BBQ CHICKEN”, “EVERYONE ELSE IS JUST PLAIN CHICKEN”, “THERE’S GOODNESS HERE”, “YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS FOOD”, “YOUR HEART IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE”, “KENNY ROGERS TAKE IT HOME & DESIGN” and “KENNY ROGERS ROASTERS EXPRESS & DESIGN” within the United States. Some of these marks are covered by corresponding foreign trademark and service mark registrations in more than 80 jurisdictions. The “Kenny Rogers Roasters” marks are subject to the terms of an April 5, 1993 license from Mr. Kenny Rogers; that license agreement was assigned to us on April 1, 1999, when we purchased certain assets relating to the “Kenny Rogers Roasters” franchise system. We hold trademark and service mark registrations for “ARTHUR TREACHER’S”, “ARTHUR TREACHER’S FISH & CHIPS”, “KRUNCH PUP” and “ORIGINAL” within the United States. We also hold trademark and service mark registrations for “ARTHUR TREACHER’S” in China and Japan.  We believe that our trademarks and service marks provide significant value to us and are an important factor in the marketing of our products and services. We believe that we do not infringe on the trademarks or other intellectual property rights of any third parties. Competition   The fast food restaurant industry is highly competitive and can be significantly affected by many factors, including changes in local, regional or national economic conditions, changes in consumer tastes, consumer concerns about the nutritional quality of quick-service food and increases in the number of, and particular locations of, competing restaurants. Factors such as inflation, increases in food, labor and energy costs, the availability and cost of suitable sites, fluctuating interest and insurance rates, state and local regulations and licensing requirements and the availability of an adequate number of hourly paid employees can also adversely affect the fast food restaurant industry. Our restaurant system competes with numerous restaurants and drive-in units operating on both a national and local basis, including major national chains with greater financial and other resources than ours. Changes in pricing or other marketing strategies by these competitors can have an adverse impact on our sales, earnings and growth. We also compete with local restaurants and diners on the basis of menu diversity, food quality, price, size, site location and name recognition. There is also active competition for management personnel as well as suitable commercial sites for restaurants. We believe that our emphasis on our signature products and the reputation of these products for taste and quality set us apart from our major competitors. As fast food companies have experienced flattening growth rates and declining average sales per restaurant, some of them have adopted “value pricing” and or deep discount strategies. These strategies could have the effect of drawing customers away from companies which do not engage in discount pricing and could also negatively impact the operating margins of competitors which attempt to match their competitors’ price reductions. We have introduced our own form of “value pricing,” selling combinations of different menu items for a total price lower than the usual sale price of the individual items and other forms of price sensitive promotions. We have expanded our value pricing strategy by offering multi-sized alternatives to our value priced combo meals. Extensive price discounting in the fast food industry could have an adverse effect on our financial results. We also compete with many franchisors of restaurants and other business concepts for the sale of franchises to qualified and financially capable franchisees. Our Branded Product Program competes directly with a variety of nationally recognized hot dog companies. Our products primarily compete based upon price, quality and value to the foodservice operator and consumer. We believe that the reputation of the Nathan’s Famous brand for superior quality along with the unique operational support provided to the foodservice operator provides Nathan’s with a competitive advantage. Our retail licensing program for the sale of packaged foods within supermarkets competes primarily on the basis of reputation, flavor, quality and price. In most cases, we compete against nationally recognized brands that have significantly greater resources then those at our disposal. Available Information  We file reports with the SEC, including an annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and a proxy statement on Schedule 14A. The public may read and copy any materials filed by us with the SEC at the SEC’s public reference room at 450 Fifth Street, NW, Washington D.C., 20549. The public may obtain information about the operation of the SEC’s public reference rooms by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC also maintains a website at that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information about issuers such as us that file electronically with the SEC. In addition, we make available free of charge on our website at our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statement on Schedule 14A and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) under the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practical after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Our Board of Directors has adopted a Code of Business Conduct applicable to the Company’s officers and employees, and has also adopted a Code of Ethics for its senior financial officers. These codes of ethics are posted on the Company’s website at in the Investor Relations section. We intend to satisfy the disclosure requirement under Item 10 of Form 8-K regarding an amendment to, or a waiver from, a provision of our code of ethics that applies to our principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer or controller, or persons performing similar functions and that relates to any element of our codes of ethics by posting such information on our website within four business days of the date of such amendment or waiver. In the case of a waiver, the nature of the waiver, the name of the person to whom the waiver was granted and the date of the waiver will also be disclosed. The Board of Directors has also adopted, and we have posted in the Investor Relations section of our website, written Charters for each of the Board’s standing committees. We will provide without charge, upon a stockholder’s request to our address set forth in the preceding section, a copy of the codes of ethics or the Charter of any standing committee of the Board. Item 1A. Risk Factors.    The following list of risk factors is not exhaustive. There can be no assurance that Nathan’s has correctly identified and appropriately assessed all factors affecting its business operations or that the publicly available and other information with respect to these matters is complete and correct. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to Nathan’s or that it currently believes to be immaterial also may adversely impact the business. Should any risks or uncertainties develop into actual events, these developments could have material adverse effects on Nathan’s business, financial condition and results of operations.    The quick service restaurant segment is highly competitive, and that competition could lower revenues, margins and market share. The quick-service restaurant segment of the foodservice industry is intensely competitive regarding price, service, location, personnel and type and quality of food. Nathan’s and its franchisees compete with international, national, regional and local retailers primarily through the quality, variety and value perception of food products offered. Other key competitive factors include the number and location of restaurants, quality and speed of service, attractiveness of facilities, effectiveness of advertising and marketing programs, and new product development. Nathan’s anticipates competition will continue to focus on pricing. Many of Nathan’s competitors have substantially larger marketing budgets, which may provide them with a competitive advantage. In addition, Nathan’s system competes within the food service market and the quick service restaurant segment not only for customers but also for management and hourly employees and qualified franchisees. If Nathan’s is unable to maintain its competitive position, it could experience downward pressure on prices, lower demand for products, reduced margins, the inability to take advantage of new business opportunities and the loss of market share. Changes in economic, market and other conditions could adversely affect Nathan’s and its franchisees, and thereby Nathan’s operating results. The quick service restaurant industry is affected by changes in international, national, regional, and local economic conditions, consumer preferences and spending patterns, demographic trends, consumer perceptions of food safety, weather, traffic patterns, the type, number and location of competing restaurants, and the effects of war or terrorist activities and any governmental responses thereto. Factors such as inflation, higher costs for each of food, labor, benefits and utilities, legal claims, and the availability of management and hourly employees also affect restaurant operations and administrative expenses. The ability of Nathan’s and its franchisees to finance new restaurant development, improvements and additions to existing restaurants, and the acquisition of restaurants from, and sale of restaurants to franchisees is affected by economic conditions, including interest rates and other government policies impacting land and construction costs and the cost and availability of borrowed funds. Events reported in the media, such as incidents involving food-borne illnesses or food tampering, whether or not accurate, can cause damage to each of Nathan’s brand’s reputation and affect sales and profitability. Reports, whether true or not, of food-borne illnesses (such as e-coli, avian flu, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, hepatitis A, trichinosis or salmonella) and injuries caused by food tampering have in the past severely injured the reputations of participants in the quick service restaurant segment and could in the future affect Nathan’s as well. Each of Nathan’s brand’s reputation is an important asset to the business; as a result, anything that damages a brand’s reputation could immediately and severely hurt systemwide sales and, accordingly, revenues and profits. If customers become ill from food-borne illnesses, Nathan’s could also be forced to temporarily close some restaurants. In addition, instances of food-borne illnesses or food tampering, even those occurring solely at the restaurants of competitors, could, by resulting in negative publicity about the restaurant industry, adversely affect system sales on a local, regional or systemwide basis. A decrease in customer traffic as a result of these health concerns or negative publicity, or as a result of a temporary closure of any of Nathan’s restaurants, could materially harm Nathan’s business, results of operations and financial condition. Current restaurant locations may become unattractive, and attractive new locations may not be available for a reasonable price, if at all, which may reduce Nathan’s revenue. The success of any restaurant depends in substantial part on its location. There can be no assurance that current locations will continue to be attractive as demographic patterns change. Neighborhood or economic conditions where restaurants are located could decline in the future, thus resulting in potentially reduced sales in those locations. If Nathan’s and its franchisees cannot obtain desirable additional and alternative locations at reasonable prices, Nathan’s results of operations would be adversely affected. Changing health or dietary preferences may cause consumers to avoid products offered by Nathan’s in favor of alternative foods. The foodservice industry is affected by consumer preferences and perceptions. If prevailing health or dietary preferences and perceptions cause consumers to avoid the products offered by Nathan’s restaurants in favor of alternative or healthier foods, demand for Nathan’s products may be reduced and its business could be harmed. Nathan’s is subject to health, employment, environmental and other government regulations, and failure to comply with existing or future government regulations could expose Nathan’s to litigation, damage Nathan’s or a brand’s reputation and lower profits. Nathan’s and its franchisees are subject to various federal, state and local laws affecting their businesses. The successful development and operation of restaurants depend to a significant extent on the selection and acquisition of suitable sites, which are subject to zoning, land use (including the placement of drive-thru windows), environmental (including litter), traffic and other regulations. Restaurant operations are also subject to licensing and regulation by state and local departments relating to health, food preparation, sanitation and safety standards, federal and state labor laws (including applicable minimum wage requirements, overtime, working and safety conditions and citizenship requirements), federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination and other laws regulating the design and operation of facilities, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If Nathan’s fails to comply with any of these laws, it may be subject to governmental action or litigation, and its reputation could be accordingly harmed. Injury to Nathan’s or a brand’s reputation would, in turn, likely reduce revenue and profits. In recent years, there has been an increased legislative, regulatory and consumer focus on nutrition and advertising practices in the food industry, particularly among quick service restaurants. As a result, Nathan’s may become subject to regulatory initiatives in the area of nutrition disclosure or advertising, such as requirements to provide information about the nutritional content of its food products, which could increase expenses. The operation of Nathan’s franchise system is also subject to franchise laws and regulations enacted by a number of states and rules promulgated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Any future legislation regulating franchise relationships may negatively affect Nathan’s operations, particularly its relationship with its franchisees. Failure to comply with new or existing franchise laws and regulations in any jurisdiction or to obtain required government approvals could result in a ban or temporary suspension on future franchise sales. Changes in applicable accounting rules imposed by governmental regulators or private governing bodies could also affect Nathan’s reported results of operations, which could cause its stock price to fluctuate or decline. Nathan’s may not be able to adequately protect its intellectual property, which could decrease the value of Nathan’s or its brands and products. The success of Nathan’s business depends on the continued ability to use existing trademarks, service marks and other components of each of Nathan’s brands in order to increase brand awareness and further develop branded products. Nathan’s may not be able to adequately protect its trademarks, and the use of these trademarks may result in liability for trademark infringement, trademark dilution or unfair competition. All of the steps Nathan’s has taken to protect its intellectual property may not be adequate.  Nathan’s earnings and business growth strategy depends in large part on the success of its franchisees, and Nathan’s or a brand’s reputation may be harmed by actions taken by franchisees that are outside of Nathan’s control. A portion of Nathan’s earnings comes from royalties, rents and other amounts paid by Nathan’s franchisees. Franchisees are independent contractors, and their employees are not employees of Nathan’s. Nathan’s provides training and support to, and monitors the operations of, its franchisees, but the quality of their restaurant operations may be diminished by any number of factors beyond Nathan’s control. Consequently, franchisees may not successfully operate stores in a manner consistent with Nathan’s high standards and requirements and franchisees may not hire and train qualified managers and other restaurant personnel. Any operational shortcoming of a franchise restaurant is likely to be attributed by consumers to an entire brand or Nathan’s system, thus damaging Nathan’s or a brand’s reputation and potentially adversely affecting Nathan’s business, results of operations and financial condition. Leasing of significant amounts of real estate exposes Nathan’s to possible liabilities and losses. Nathan’s leases the land and/or the building, for certain system restaurants. Accordingly, Nathan’s is subject to all of the risks associated with owning and leasing real estate. Nathan’s generally cannot cancel these leases. If an existing or future store is not profitable, and Nathan’s decides to close it, Nathan’s may nonetheless be committed to perform its obligations under the applicable lease including, among other things, paying the base rent for the balance of the lease term. In addition, as each of the leases expires, Nathan’s may fail to negotiate renewals, either on commercially acceptable terms or at all, which could cause Nathan’s to close stores in desirable locations. Nathan’s may evaluate acquisitions, joint ventures and other strategic initiatives, any of which could distract management or otherwise have a negative effect on revenues, costs and stock price. Nathan’s future success may depend on opportunities to buy or obtain rights to other businesses that could complement, enhance or expand its current business or products or that might otherwise offer growth opportunities. In particular, Nathan’s may evaluate potential mergers, acquisitions, joint venture investments, strategic initiatives, alliances, vertical integration opportunities and divestitures. Any attempt by Nathan’s to engage in these transactions may expose it to various inherent risks, including: ·   accurately assessing the value, future growth potential, strengths, weaknesses, contingent and other liabilities and potential profitability of acquisition candidates; ·   the potential loss of key personnel of an acquired business; ·   the ability to achieve projected economic and operating synergies; ·   difficulties in successfully integrating, operating, maintaining and managing newly acquired operations or employees; ·   difficulties maintaining uniform standards, controls, procedures and policies; ·   unanticipated changes in business and economic conditions affecting an acquired business; ·   the possibility of impairment charges if an acquired business performs below expectations; and ·   the diversion of management’s attention from the existing business to integrate the operations and personnel of the acquired or combined business or implement the strategic initiative. Nathan’s annual and quarterly financial results may fluctuate depending on various factors, many of which are beyond its control, and, if Nathan’s fails to meet the expectations of securities analysts or investors, Nathan’s share price may decline. Nathan’s sales and operating results can vary from quarter to quarter and year to year depending on various factors, many of which are beyond its control. Certain events and factors may directly and immediately decrease demand for Nathan’s products. If customer demand decreases rapidly, Nathan’s results of operations would also decline. These events and factors include: ·   variations in the timing and volume of Nathan’s sales and franchisees’ sales; ·   sales promotions by Nathan’s and its competitors; ·   changes in average same-store sales and customer visits; ·   variations in the price, availability and shipping costs of supplies; ·   seasonal effects on demand for Nathan’s products; ·   unexpected slowdowns in new store development efforts; ·   changes in competitive and economic conditions generally; ·   changes in the cost or availability of ingredients or labor; ·   weather and acts of God; and ·   changes in the number of franchise agreement renewals. Catastrophic events may disrupt Nathan’s business. Unforeseen events, including war, terrorism and other international conflicts, public health issues, labor unrest and natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or other adverse weather and climate conditions, whether occurring in the United States or abroad, could disrupt Nathan’s operations, disrupt the operations of franchisees, suppliers or customers, or result in political or economic instability. These events could reduce demand for Nathan’s products or make it difficult or impossible to receive products from suppliers. Nathan’s international operations are subject to various factors of uncertainty. Nathan’s business outside of the United States is subject to a number of additional factors, including international economic and political conditions, differing cultures and consumer preferences, currency regulations and fluctuations, diverse government regulations and tax systems, uncertain or differing interpretations of rights and obligations in connection with international franchise agreements and the collection of royalties from international franchisees, the availability and cost of land and construction costs, and the availability of appropriate franchisees. Although Nathan’s believes it has developed the support structure required for international growth, there is no assurance that such growth will occur or that international operations will be profitable.   Nathan’s may from time to time sell certain of its leasehold interests to various third parties. The disposition of leases to new or existing franchisees or other third parties for Company-operated restaurants or franchised restaurants where Nathan’s has guaranteed the lease obligation has been part of Nathan’s strategy to develop the overall health of the system by disposing of such interests where prudent. The realization of gains from future dispositions of leasehold interests depends in part on the ability of Nathan’s to complete any future disposition transactions on acceptable terms. There are various reasons why the program might be unsuccessful, including changes in economic, credit market, real estate market or other conditions, and the ability of Nathan’s to complete sale transactions on acceptable terms and at or near the prices estimated as attainable by Nathan’s. Increases in the cost of food and paper products could harm our profitability and operating results. The cost of the food and paper products we use depends on a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. We purchase large quantities of beef and our beef costs in the United States represent approximately 85% of our food costs. The market for beef is particularly volatile and is subject to significant price fluctuations due to seasonal shifts, climate conditions, industry demand and other factors. For example, recent increased demand in beef resulted in shortages, requiring us to pay significantly higher prices for the beef we purchased. We were unable to pass all of the recent price increases to our customers. If the price of beef or other food products that we use in our restaurants increase in the future and we choose not to pass, or cannot pass, these increases on to our customers, our operating margins would decrease. Food and paper products typically represent approximately 25% to 30% of our cost of sales. Fluctuations in weather, supply and demand and economic conditions could adversely affect the cost, availability and quality of some of our critical products, including beef. Our inability to obtain requisite quantities of high-quality ingredients would adversely affect our ability to provide the menu items that are central to our business, and the highly competitive nature of our industry may limit our ability to pass through increased costs to our customers. Continuing increases in the cost of fuel would increase the distribution costs of our prime products thereby increasing the food and paper cost to us and to our franchisees, thus negatively affecting profitability. Labor shortages or increases in labor costs could slow our growth or harm our business. Our success depends in part upon our ability to continue to attract, motivate and retain regional operational and restaurant general managers with the qualifications to succeed in our industry and the motivation to apply our core service philosophy. If we are unable to continue to recruit and retain sufficiently qualified managers or to motivate our employees to achieve sustained high service levels, our business and our growth could be adversely affected. Competition for these employees could require us to pay higher wages that could result in higher labor costs. In addition, increases in the minimum wage or labor regulation could increase our labor costs. We may be unable to increase our prices in order to pass these increased labor costs on to our customers, in which case our margins and our franchisees’ margins would be negatively affected. We face risks of litigation and pressure tactics, such as strikes, boycotts and negative publicity from customers, franchisees, suppliers, employees and others, which could divert our financial and management resources and which may negatively impact our financial condition and results of operations. Class action lawsuits have been filed, and may continue to be filed, against various quick service restaurants alleging, among other things, that quick service restaurants have failed to disclose the health risks associated with high-fat foods and that quick service restaurant marketing practices have targeted children and encouraged obesity. In addition, we face the risk of lawsuits and negative publicity resulting from injuries, including injuries to infants and children, allegedly caused by our products, toys and other promotional items available in our restaurants or our playground equipment. In addition to decreasing our sales and profitability and diverting our management resources, adverse publicity or a substantial judgment against us could negatively impact our business, results of operations, financial condition and brand reputation, hindering our ability to attract and retain franchisees and grow our business in the United States and internationally. In addition, activist groups, including animal rights activists and groups acting on behalf of franchisees, the workers who work for our suppliers and others, have in the past, and may in the future, use pressure tactics to generate adverse publicity about us by alleging, for example, inhumane treatment of animals by our suppliers, poor working conditions or unfair purchasing policies. These groups may be able to coordinate their actions with other groups, threaten strikes or boycotts or enlist the support of well-known persons or organizations in order to increase the pressure on us to achieve their stated aims. In the future, these actions or the threat of these actions may force us to change our business practices or pricing policies, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Further, we may be subject to employee, franchisee and other claims in the future based on, among other things, mismanagement of the system, unfair or unequal treatment, discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination and wage, rest break and meal break issues, including those relating to overtime compensation. We have been subject to these types of claims in the past, and if one or more of these claims were to be successful or if there is a significant increase in the number of these claims, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be harmed.