Sonic Corp. plans to open 40 to 50 new franchise drive-in restaurants over the next fiscal year and will expand into new markets with additional franchising agreements, Cliff Hudson, chairman, CEO and president told shareholders during the company's annual meeting Thursday.
“Franchise growth will become a larger part of our growth and success in the coming years than it had been during the last recession,” Hudson said.
The company's stock price has grown by about 97 percent over the past year, in part because of strong sales, expansion into new markets, franchise growth and stock repurchases.
During Sonic's annual shareholder meeting Thursday at the company's Bricktown headquarters, shareholders approved the installation of directors Tony D. Bartel, president of GameStop Corp.; and Lauren R. Hobart, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Dick's Sporting Goods.
Both Bartel and Hobard will serve three-year terms on Sonic's board and stand for re-election in 2017.
After 18 years of service, Gene Rainbolt, chairman of Oklahoma City-based BancFirst Corp. retired from Sonic's board Thursday.
Sonic Corp. announced after the shareholder meeting that its directors had approve plans to buy back another $40 million of its own stock — doubling the size of its previously announced $40 million repurchase program. The stock repurchase program has helped maximize returns for investors and boost the stock price.
The company said it buys shares on the open market and in negotiated transactions, depending on share price and market conditions.
The updated authorization allows for Sonic to purchase $80 million of common stock through Aug. 31.
In an advisory vote during Thursday's meeting, shareholders also approved Hudson's $2.16 million pay package in 2013 that included a $686,708 salary, plus stock and option awards, a car allowance and other compensation — a more than $439,000 raise over Hudson's 2012 pay package of $1.72 million.