June 5, 2023

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Wendy’s CEO promotes AI deal with Google

Wendy’s CEO Todd Bennigor told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Wednesday that the fast food chain’s artificial intelligence partnership with Google is the “first step” toward additional technology changes at its restaurants.

Wendy’s-owned Google and Alphabet have created an AI chatbot designed specifically for drive-through ordering. The Ohio-based burger chain will run a drive-through AI pilot program at several Columbus-area locations starting in June, Bennigor told Kramer.

This new “drive-through” feature aims to “take the slowest point of the ordering process, the ordering out of the speaker box,” to create a more enjoyable restaurant experience, the CEO said. “We will learn a lot. The first step in a lot of innovation,” he added.

Penegor stressed its commitment to modernizing Wendy’s over the next few quarters, emphasizing the opportunity with digital menu boards, for example. He said Wendy’s is all trying to “lead the restaurant of the future” with these initiatives.

Another area of ‚Äč‚Äčopportunity, Penegor said, is increasing Wendy’s store hours. “We’ll tend to late at night,” he said. “We know we’re under indexed and have an opportunity for a significant amount of growth” by targeting the late-night audience.

Earlier Wednesday, Wendy’s reported better-than-expected first-quarter results, with revenue totaling $528.8 million, up 8.2% from the year-ago period. That compares with analyst estimates of $522 million. The company’s earnings per share of 21 cents was higher than expected by 1 percent.

But despite the positive results, Wendy’s refused to raise full-year guidance, which may have contributed to its stock falling nearly 2% at its lows on Wednesday; But it closed up 1%, at $23.21.

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Disclaimer: The Jim Cramer Charitable Fund owns shares in Alphabet.

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