On The Block

Retail-minded buyout firms may have a new place to store their money: fast-growing The Container Store, which is considering a sale. The decision comes as the 29-year-old storage and organization retailer announced that its sales likely reached $500 million in 2006. Revenues at the Coppell, Texas-based company have grown steadily at 15 percent to 20 percent per year. The Container Store has 38 locations, with three new stores planned to open later this year and as a many as six in 2008. JPMorgan is serving as financial advisor to the company, while Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is serving as legal counsel. News of the potential sale comes after the family of Garrett Boone, chairman of The Container Store, expressed interest in selling a large portion of their holdings.

General partners may soon be able to get their hands on another well-known casual dining establishment. The board of Applebee’s International Inc. (Nasdaq:APPB) has formed a committee to explore strategic alternatives for the company. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and Banc of America Securities LLC are running the auction, while Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin LLP are providing legal counsel. Net earnings for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006 for the Overland Park, Kan.-based restaurant chain were $18.5 million, according to its most recent earnings release. That was down from $20.5 million the year before. Applebee’s franchises or operates 1,942 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar locations in 49 states and 17 countries. It is the largest casual dining restaurant chain in the world.

Investment bank Allen & Co. LLC has been tapped to sell a number of struggling magazine titles owned by Dennis Publishing Inc. The titles include men’s magazines Maxim and Stuff, as well as music publication Blender. Combined, the U.S. editions of these three publications reportedly generated almost $315 million in ad sales last year. But subscription and single-copy sales of the magazines themselves have been lagging. Maxim’s total paid and verified circulation reportedly was flat at 2.5 million in last year’s second half, while newsstand sales dropped 12.2 percent. Meanwhile Stuff’s total paid and verified circulation fell 4.8 percent to 1.25 million. Newsstand sales of that publication plummeted 34.9 percent. Not included in the package of titles that Dennis Publishing is selling is its news and commentary title The Week.

Upon announcing record net sales of $6.46 billion for 2006, building materials company Owens Corning (NYSE:OC) also said it was evaluating strategic alternatives for its home-siding business and for Fabwel, a supplier of parts for recreational vehicles. The siding business, run by President Brian Chambers, produces residential siding and other exterior cladding products. Fabwel is a Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer and fabricator of RV components, such as exterior aluminum sidewalls and fiberglass floor surfaces. Owens Corning did not disclose how long it would take to evaluate strategic alternatives, or if it hired an investment bank for financial advice.