CKE Restaurants Inc. said Tuesday it signed a deal with a franchisee to open 72 Carl's Jr. restaurants in Dallas and Houston over the next nine years.

The Carpinteria fast-food restaurant operator said it signed an agreement with Star Foods Investors Group that includes putting 32 restaurants in Dallas and 40 in the Houston market. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The franchise group's background is in commercial real estate acquisition, construction and development in the Western United States, with more than 25 years expertise in multi-unit operations and management in the fast food industry, CKE said.

The agreement with comes six weeks after CKE announced a 121-unit expansion agreement in Texas with RWJP Star Enterprises. There are 18 franchised Carl's Jr. restaurants in Texas to date. The company, which also owns the Hardee's chain, had a total of 3,110 franchised, licensed or company-operated restaurants worldwide as of the end of its last quarter.

"Combined with the previously announced franchise deal for 121 units, we believe Texas is well on its way to becoming a major stronghold for our brand," said Chief Executive Andrew F. Puzder in a statement.

CKE shares were up 21 cents, or nearly 3 percent, to $7.82 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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