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Peltz's funds: P.F. Chang's in, Starbucks out

NEW YORK Investor Nelson Peltz and his affiliated funds have dumped their shares in Starbucks, but snatched up a nearly 5-percent stake in P.F. Chang's, according to documents filed Thursday with federal regulators.

In the filings, various funds affiliated with Peltz's Trian Partners revealed a stake totaling 1.13 million shares in P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc., or 4.75 percent of the restaurant company's outstanding shares.

The filings also showed that Trian has sold its entire stake in Starbucks Corp., which had totaled more than 850,000 shares, or less than 1 percent of the coffeehouse operator's outstanding shares. That holding was first revealed in May.

The documents were standard quarterly filings for the three months ended in June, and do not reveal when the stock trades were made or for how much.

Peltz is known for building up stakes in companies and aggressively pushing for change. When his position in Starbucks was first announced, pundits had predicted he would get involved with the company's turnaround efforts, as he had done with the parent companies to Wendy's, McDonald's, the Snapple beverage brand and Heinz.

At Wendy's, Peltz's involvement led to the pending merger with Triarc Cos. Inc., the parent to Arby's and where Peltz serves as non-executive chairman and is the largest shareholder. That deal is valued at $2.34 billion and involves a Wendy's to Triarc stock swap. Peltz's Trian is still a shareholder in Wendy's.

P.F. Chang's has struggled lately with soft sales at both its 182-unit namesake casual-dining brand and its 159-unit Pei Wei Asian Diner fast-casual concept. In its second quarter ended June 29, P.F. Chang's posted a 1.3-percent uptick in profit to $9.4 million, or 39 cents share, on revenues that rose 14 percent to $304.1 million. Same-store sales, however were down at both brands, with dips of 2.3 percent at the namesake chain and 3.2 percent at Pei Wei.

Officials for P.F. Chang's have cited macroeconomic challenges for a slowdown in the company's planned openings for fiscal 2009. The company said it expected to open 12 to 14 namesake units and 10 Pei Wei locations. That compares with the 17 namesake Bistros and 25 Pei Wei units scheduled to open this year.

P.F. Chang's stock rose 0.7 percent on Thursday to close at $28.26 a share. Starbucks' shares climbed 3.8 percent and closed at $16.92.

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