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Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. (IRG - Snapshot Report) recently revealed that it has appointed Michael J. Dixon as the chief financial officer (CFO) and Senior Vice President, effective January 2, 2013. Dixon will replace Jeffery L. Rager, who put down his papers for other prospects.

Dixon has donned many important roles in his illustrious career. Previously, he was the Senior Vice President and CFO at Pinkberry - a renowned food-chain in the premium frozen yogurt category with 220 outlets. Prior to that, he held the same posts at The Cheesecake Factory Inc. (CAKE - Analyst Report) from 2006 to 2008. He also acted as Controller at The Cheesecake Factory from 2000 to 2004.

Dixon’s list of achievements does not end there. He was the Vice President and Controller with in 2000, and was the Director of Finance and Business Development at Walt Disney Co. (DIS - Analyst Report) during 1994-2000. Dixon also has an experience of nine years with a predecessor firm to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Coopers & Lybrand. All the past experience coupled with his recent term with Brinker International Inc. (EAT - Analyst Report) as a board member vouch for his excellence.

Taking into account his vast experience of 12 years in the food service industry, Dixon can easily be labeled as a veteran in that sector. Considering his vast know-how about business development, public accounting as well as his prior experience as a financial leader with leading retailers, we believe that he will likely provide meaningful support to Ignite Restaurant’s growth and profitability, going forward.

However, Ignite Restaurants’ present scenario is not very encouraging as evident by the earnings misses in the last two quarters. The average earnings surprise is (25.00%) over the trailing four quarters. Hence, the new role for Dixon, the CFO at Ignite, invests him with additional responsibility in a sluggish business environment. 

Ignite Restaurant currently carries a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates into a short-term ‘Sell’ rating. We are maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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