• Domino's will deliver an IPO before summer's end, experts say

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Privately held Domino's Pizza may test the public waters as early as this summer, according to a report in BusinessWeek Online.

The publication cites "several knowledgeable sources" who said an IPO is in the works, and Domino's chairman and chief executive David Brandon has said in the past that an IPO is a "distinct possibility."

Currently, however, neither Domino's representatives nor officials at Bain Capital, its Boston-based parent company, will comment on the speculation.

The sunny season has been a sizzler for Domino's and Bain. As the pizza chain posted record second quarter 2002 numbers, Bain joined Goldman Sachs Capital Partners L.P. and Texas Pacific Group to buy Miami-based Burger King. The July sale netted $2.3 billion for London-based spirits giant, Diaego, Plc.

As the sell-off deal took shape in June, foodservice industry watchers surmised that Bain's participation signaled an inevitable co-brand marriage of burgers and pizza -- one that could battle YUM! Brands' multi-restaurant juggernaut. Domino's officers, however, have consistently denied such an arrangement is in the works.

At the very least, an IPO in such a rocky market would be gutsy, experts say. According to BusinessWeek Online, few of this year's 50 or so IPOs have yielded positive returns.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Spirits, the latest restaurant chain to go public, hasn't impressed investors either. Since its offering at $12.25 a share in mid-July, it peaked at $13.85 and then dropped to $11.65. It's currently trading at about $12.

However, unlike Red Robin, Domino's is an internationally recognized name analysts say should attract Wall Street's attention.

"There's a proclivity to go with names you know," Greg Schroeder, research analyst at Fulcrum Global Partners, told BusinessWeek Online.

Schroeder also believes that Domino's proven ability to grow by doing one thing well -- pizza delivery -- represents a straightforward approach that would appeal to investors.

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