Restaurant Brands International Inc. (QSR): Bill Ackman’s Latest Thoughts

In a recently published Pershing Square’s Annual Letter 2018, billionaire Bill Ackman shared his opinions in detail about the stocks in the fund’s 13F portfolio, among which is Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE:QSR). A copy of the letter you can findhere. To sum up, Bill Ackman holds the opinion that recent changes at the company have already brought back positive results in terms of same-store sales.

 “Restaurant Brands International (“QSR”)QSR’s franchised business model is a high-quality, capital-light, growing annuity that generates high-margin brand royalty fees from three leading brands: Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes. The company’s unique business model allows it to capitalize on its significant long-term unit growth opportunity with minimal capital investment. QSR’s strong overall business performance continued during 2018 with 25% EPS growth, which reflects strong business progress and the benefits of the refinancing of the 9% Buffett preferred. The company grew total net units by 5%, with 6% growth at Burger King, 2% at Tim Hortons and 7% at Popeyes. Same-store-sales increased by 2% at both Burger King and Popeyes and 1% at Tim Hortons. Since the end of 2017, QSR has taken several actions to combat the recent slowdown in same-store sales at Tim Hortons. The company replaced Tim Hortons management with the team that had previously turned around weak same-store sales at Burger King, improved relations with franchisees, and unveiled a new operating plan entitled “Winning Together,” which is focused on improving the restaurant experience, new product development, and brand communications. During 2018, Tim Hortons launched all-day breakfast, a kids menu, and a store reimaging program. This month, the company also launched its loyalty program nationwide after successfully testing it in select markets. We believe the company’s recent initiatives are already generating better results, as same-store sales momentum improved in each quarter throughout 2018, with a 2% increase in the fourth quarter. Earlier this year, QSR elevated Daniel Schwartz to Executive Chairman and promoted Jose Cil to CEO. We believe Jose’s deep operational experience and successful 18-year track record at Burger King position him well to lead QSR. In 2018, QSR’s share price, including dividends, declined 12% due to concerns regarding soft same-store sales at Tim Hortons earlier in the year and the broader market downturn in the fourth quarter. The share price is up 23% this year, primarily reflecting significant improved fourth quarter results at Tim Hortons. QSR currently trades at 22 times our estimate of this year’s free cash flow, which is a discount to lower-growth franchised peers and below our estimate of intrinsic value. We believe that continued improvement at Tim Hortons, and the opportunity for the company to tell its story at its first QSR investor day in May, will highlight the company’s significant long-term growth potential and serve as potential catalysts for future share price appreciation.”

Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE:QSR): Billionaire Bill Ackman Thinks It Has Significant Long-Term Growth Potential

Jonathan Weiss/

Restaurant Brands International is a Canadian fast food holding company, which was launched five years ago, as a result of the $12.5 billion merger between Tim Hortons, coffee shop and restaurant chain, and a famous fast food restaurant chain, Burger King. Year-to-date, the company’s stock is up by 27.57%, having a closing price on March 28th of $65.60.

At Q4’s end, a total of 37 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey held long positions in this stock, a change of -8% from the previous quarter. By comparison, 46 hedge funds held shares or bullish call options in QSR a year ago. So, let’s see which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

The largest stake in Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE:QSR) was held by Pershing Square, which reported holding $1029.6 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by Berkshire Hathaway with a $441.3 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included Eminence Capital, Melvin Capital Management, and Suvretta Capital Management.

QSR graph

On March 20th, Mizuho downgraded its rating on the stock to ‘Neutral’ from ‘Buy’ with a price target of $68.00, while one day earlier UBS Group set a price target on it of $74.00 with a ‘Buy’ rating.

Disclosure: None.

This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.