Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) has built an exceptional growth story since its IPO in 2003. The chicken wings chain has reported steady growth in same store sales throughout these years, if we ignore the last two quarters. With an altogether distinct approach of “Wings – Beer – Sports” in the casual dining segment, the company is now the largest sports bar restaurant chain. But the company had a softer SSS in the fall of 2012, and I think this trend may continue in the near term. The stock price also has seen a downfall of ~15% in the last three months of 2012 with an overall return of ~11% for the entire year. The downfall was mainly due to rising chicken prices, which impacted the company's bottom-line. I feel this short-term drop provides a good investment opportunity as the long-term growth prospects remains intact. Let's discuss some of its growth fundamentals in detail.
The speedy expansion
The company is planning to bring its total chain count to 1000 by the end of 2013 with ~105 new restaurants this year. With this plan, it is focusing on the key markets of California, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and the Mid-Atlantic region. These places though have a long history of high real estate and labor cost, but they have also significantly contributed to average unit volume. Additionally, the company is now targeting non-traditional places such as airports which have reported higher sales volumes in the past. Moreover, Buffalo Wild Wings is focusing heavily on North America by doubling its unit count in this region. I anticipate the unit growth for the company to be around 10% for the next 3 years.
The company also has plans for international expansions and has signed development agreements for 22 franchised locations in the Middle East region. Additionally, four locations are expected to open in Puerto Rico in early 2013. The Company is also in discussion for expansions in the Philippines, Germany, the U.K. and Panama. The expansion deals outside of North America would be mostly license agreements with the minimum burden of overhead costs on the company.
Although Buffalo Wild Wings is known for its male focused approach, the company has already made a decent shift towards broader demographics. As the company cannot compete with the mammoth ad budgets of its competitors, it has resorted to viral and digital ads and both seem to be successful so far in order to create a buzz. The company aims to keep its ads more appealing and focused on funny sports scenarios. Its advertisements are already featured nationally on ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports and with the bowl football promotions from 4Q12 into 1Q13, investors can anticipate further monetization.