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The drive-in delivers again: Sonic surges to yet another all-time high

The drive-in delivers again: Sonic surges to yet another all-time high

Drive-in hamburger restaurant Sonic (SONC) was trading at its latest record price Monday, bringing its gain for 2015 to 23% and its increase in the past 52 weeks to 65%, after it reported a jump in sales at company-owned and franchised locations in the most recent quarter.

Recently, shares of Oklahoma City-based Sonic were up 5.3% to $33.47. The session high -- and now best ever -- was $33.93. The latest step up followed news that system-wide same-store sales for the second quarter ended Feb. 28 rose about 11.5%. Same-store sales were higher by 11.3% at company drive-ins and 11.5% at franchises, the latter of which are about 89% of the 3,500-store system.

Though the majority of Sonic's main valuation measures are above their five-year averages, according to FactSet, any concerns about its trading levels haven't prevented the stock from climbing to a series of all-time highs in a rally that's now in its fourth year. The compound annual growth rate was 59.4% from the close of 2011 through the end of 2014.

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Short sellers are aware of this, as they are for so many stocks based on discretionary spending, and currently short interest totals about 10% of the float. However, doubters have been disappointed again and again as the advance continues for the overall market, as well as for the consumer discretionary names, including a large number of restaurants.

In addition to its burgers, Sonic is known for hot dogs, shakes, all-day breakfast and a long-running ad campaign featuring the "Two Guys" offering up humorous takes on food and the world. Most of the sales increase was a result of greater customer traffic, rather than diners paying higher prices for their meals. That's a positive indicator of demand and likely benefited from lower gasoline prices in recent months.

Sonic will report its full results for the quarter on March 24. FactSet says analysts are planning on sales of $120.4 million and earnings of 11 cents a share.