Shake Shack IPO Could Leave Bad Taste

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer and CEO Randy Garutti ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate their company's blog udpate courtesy of Forbes’ contributor  Jeff Golman.

In late December, blogged about the exciting news regarding Shake Shack applying for an IPO. Shake Shack, a New York burger chain  burger chain created by famous restaurateur Danny Meyer, is known for its fresh cut fires, 100% all beef burgers and hot dogs, and most of all its delicious shakes. The chain has been growing ever since its opening in New York City in 2000 and now has 63  locations open  worldwide. Forbes’ contributor Jeff Golman believes that the burger chain’s IPO is too good to be true and is overdone. 

By now, I’m sure you know all about Shake Shack’s recent IPO. The burger chain’s nearly $2 billion valuation and 130% pop on day-one of trading was nothing short of impressive, albeit slightly anticipated.

Shake Shack is just the most recent in a string of “fast-casual” restaurants to go public in the past 10 years, and investors are eating them up. However, it’s important to note that Shake Shack’s unit economics and demographic positioning made this a particularly interesting investment opportunity, which will be incredibly difficult to duplicate. And while the IPO may be a positive sign for similarly-placed restaurant concepts, it cannot be applied across the board.

The public offering has always been a credible and attractive exit opportunity for the right concept, but it has boomed in the past year with some 1,205 issuers raising nearly $249 billion globally, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Increased confidence in the U.S. economy, low interest rates and positive IPO performance have combined to encourage businesses to make offerings and investors to take greater risks.

However, just because a company can go public, doesn’t mean it should. Successful IPOs require a very impressive growth profile, and even the most well-positioned company still runs the risk of failure. Therefore, for many, a merger or acquisition may be a safer, smarter and preferred method of growing and funding a business.

One of the major challenges of going public is the overwhelming emphasis on short-term financial performance. For example, the moment Shake Shack comes out with a disappointing quarter, its stock will likely drop, and possibly sharply. Since shareholders and analysts tend to concentrate on short-term earnings rather than long-term return on capital, public companies must often shift focus to meeting quarterly targets rather than bolstering strategic opportunities and innovation. In short, it’s hard to invest in long-term growth when you’re battling the markets.

Another significant roadblock in the IPO route is that they don’t generate immediate liquidity. The ability to cash out completely on day one is unique to M&A exits, and in today’s robust M&A market the more quickly this money can be put to work, the better.

2014 was the strongest year for deal-making since before the recession with a 47% increase in the total value of worldwide M&A since 2013. There’s a lot of money in the private market right now, and anyone looking to exit should consider taking advantage. The lower costs, corporate stability, decreased risk, greater flexibility for management, and more stable valuations provided by a merger or acquisition far outweigh the benefits of being listed on the public market. Yes, IPOs are hot right now, but the problem with heat is that it always dies down. It may be easy to label Shake Shack’s offering as a success today, but time will tell if they can live up to the hype.

It’s in our nature to look out for “the next big thing,” and once we find it there’s no turning back. But there is something to be said for stability and consistency. One of the reasons Americans love burgers isn’t just the delicious taste, but the sense of nostalgia we feel when we eat them. They bring us back to the good old days when life was just a little bit simpler. Just like a good burger, M&A is a slow cook aiming to provide the best flavor.

For the original article, click here

New IPO makes Brokerdealers Hungrier for 2015 blog update courtesy of Forbes.

Brokerdealers everywhere have rejoiced, Shake Shack, a newer chain restaurant, recently applied for an IPO and set to go public in 2015. Shake Shack is known for its fresh cut fires, 100% all beef burgers and hot dogs, and most of all its delicious shakes. The chain has been growing ever since its opening in New York City in 2000 and now has 63  locations open  worldwide.

Shake Shack, the New York-based burger chain created by famous restaurateur Danny Meyer, is set to go public in 2015, after filing for an IPO Monday.

The chain, which plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SHAK,” details a rapid growth effort that has seen an increase from a single shack in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park to 63 locations worldwide today (about half are owned by the company, with the remainder operated by licensees.”

Restaurant concepts have proven a mixed bag in the market, as investors pore over growth prospects looking for chains that could prove as lucrative as Chipotle Mexican Grill CMG -1.73%, which has returned more than 1500% since being spun out of McDonald’s MCD -0.87% in 2006.

IPOs from companies like Noodles & Co, Potbelly and Zoe’s Kitchen were greeted with immense demand, though both stocks have taken their share of hits since debuting. More recently, burger chain Habit Restaurants has surged more than 80% since its mid-November IPO.

At a time when many legacy restaurant operators are struggling to find growth — McDonald’s certainly among them — younger chains with smaller footprints and more runway for expansion are proving attractive.

Shake Shack reported $140 million in system-wide sales for its 2013 fiscal year, up from $81 million the prior year, with 56% of revenue from its domestic, company-owned locations. Total revenue, which only includes licensing revenue from non-owned locations, was $83.8 million in 2013, up 41% from the prior year. Net income declined to $3.5 million, from $4.4 million the year before, due to a sharp increase in expenses, largely attributable to higher food costs and costs associated with opening new locations.

Growth is likely to come both abroad and at home. Aside from New York, with 15 locations, no U.S. state has more than four Shake Shacks.

“Fast-growing restaurant concepts are still hot,” says Paul Bard of IPO research firm Renaissance Capital. “Habit opened up 100% so comparable companies will see that as an opportunity and there’s a whole crop of fast-casual burger chains out there.”

Bard also points to chicken chain Bojangles and Focus Brands, a franchiser of Cinnabon and Carvel, as potential names to watch for on the 2015 IPO market as investors continue to look for growth in the consumer space.

The U.S. economy’s slow recovery and improved consumer spending is certainly a help to restaurants, but Shake Shack’s filing notes that the company’s initial expansion occurred in a far more difficult environment.

“We’ve never believed that Shake Shack only thrives in a down economy, but growing from one to 15 Shacks smack dab in the heart of the recession told us that we also don’t need a robust economy to build our business,” Meyer and CEO Randy Garutti wrote in a letter to prospective shareholders.

Meyer is listed among the shareholders who control at least 5% of Shake Shack’s shares, along with affiliates of private equity firm Leonard Green, Select Equity Group, Alliance Consumer Growth, and Jeff Flug, president of Union Square Hospitality Group, the parent company of Meyer’s other restaurant ventures, and a Shake Shack board member.

The language in the Shake Shack filing also reveals the controlling hand Meyer will maintain at the company post-IPO. He and his affiliates will be entitled to nominate a certain number of directors — five as long as he maintains 50% of his post-offering holdings, and sliding down from there — and must grant approval for a variety of corporate actions, including a sale of the company, firing or hiring of a new CEO or a change in board size, so long as the group keeps 10% of its post-IPO shares.


For the original Forbes article, click here.