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Who’s Playing the Caribou Coffee (CBOU) Buyout?

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Caribou Coffee Company, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBOU) saw Gamco Investors take a new stake in the coffee company over the past few days. Per a round of 13D filings with the SEC, Gamco announced that it now owns 1.38 million shares, with the investment company’s most recent round of buying being at $15.99. Gamco is a publicly traded investment firm that focuses on finding long-term opportunities that offer its investors capital appreciation. Founder Mario Gabelli continues to own 50% of the investment company and mega-billionaire Bill Gates is also a notable investor (check out Bill Gates’ top picks).

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Caribou recently had the German holding company Benckiser group announce its buyout of the coffee company earlier this week, sending the stock up over 25%. The buyout comes to $340 million or $16 per share. Gamco could be trying to capitalize on the very tightly margined merger-arbitrage opportunity or betting on a possible increase in the buyout price. Notable billionaire investors – as of the end of 3Q – that Gamco joins include D.E. Shaw and Israel Englander (see D.E. Shaw’s top bets).

Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) has been competing with various coffee and breakfast companies, among other fast food companies as well. This fast food company is also one of the high growth food retail stocks in the industry thanks to a transition in consumer preference toward healthier and fresher foods. Panera is up almost 25% over the last twelve months and is still expected to grow earnings at 19% annually over the next five years. The food company also trades at 31x trailing earnings, with a forward P/E of only 24x, making it both a value and growth play. Panera has billionaire Jim Simons as one of its top name investors (see Jim Simons’ biggest bets).

Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) is up over 15% since its mid-2011 IPO, and with its strong expected expansion plans should continue to rise. Dunkin has a solid expected growth rate of 17% for the next five years and also pays a modest dividend yielding 1.8%. Billionaire Ken Griffin – founder of Citadel Investment Group – found a reason to love Dunkin last quarter, upping his stake over 1300% (check out Ken Griffin’s newest picks).

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (NYSE:KKD) is another notable Caribou competitor and has the best expected growth rate for the next five years at 25% and trades at only 4x trailing earnings – making it an impressive growth at a reasonable price opportunity. Krispy could be another potential takeover that Benckiser could target, although it would be a bit rich for the buyout company at a $600 million market-cap. One of Steven Cohen and SAC Capital’s subsidiaries – Sigma Capital – loves the coffee company (see Steven Cohen’s top moves).

There’s one more player that David Einhorn loves as well, you may be surprised.

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