Noble Roman’s might be pondering sale

Locally based Noble Roman’s Inc. has hired a financial adviser to help it explore strategic alternatives, a move that often opens the door to a company’s sale.

The struggling franchise pizza chain, which has about 1,000 locations across the United States, said it has hired Newport Beach, Calif.-based Roth Capital Partners to evaluate “various strategies to enhance shareholder value.”

If the company is looking for a sale, it has picked a difficult time, given the slowdown in the economy and weakening demand for consumer products, said George Farra, a principal with Indianapolis investment firm Woodley Farra Manion Portfolio Management.

“It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it likely wouldn’t be on terms beneficial to Noble Roman’s or to the buyer,” Farra said.

The credit crunch also has made acquisitions more difficult to finance.

Shares in Noble Roman’s closed at $1.25 yesterday, down from more than $7 at their peak last year, giving the chain a market value of about $24.5 million. The company carries about $5.5 million in debt.

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