Wings Are a Better Investment Than Pizza

The major pizza chains, Domino's and Papa John's, just can't keep pace with this wing restaurant.

Apr 19, 2014 at 10:00AM

Wings and pizza just go together. Both of the major pizza chains, Domino's (NYSE:DPZ) and Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA), offer wings. Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) bought up PizzaRev in early 2013 (PizzaRev is like Chipotle for pizza). Which is a better investment? Wings or pizza? In this case, Buffalo Wild Wings looks like a clear winner.

The key growth opportunity for Buffalo Wild Wings
After Buffalo Wild Wings guided for second-half 2014 growth that was below analysts' expectations, its shares have been down over 5% over the last month. However, it's the long-term story that's more interesting. Buffalo Wild Wings is looking to move more toward a franchise model. The company has 1,000 Buffalo Wild Wings stores, and it plans to get to 1,700 locations in the U.S. and Canada. 

Buffalo Wild Wings is no stranger to the franchise model--about 55% of its stores are franchised. By relying more on franchising, Buffalo Wild Wings can lower its capital outlays and maximize the returns for its investors (via earnings growth and return on equity expansion).

Innovation is alive and well at Buffalo Wild Wings
Many things are going on at Buffalo Wild Wings. Tablets at its tables allow customers to order food and pay their bills. The company hopes to have tablets in all 1,000 of its stores by the end of 2015. It also has new stadium design restaurants that are resonating with consumers because they have open layouts and more TVs. 

These initiatives should drive traffic even higher. Despite the fact that the company's revenue missed analysts' estimates last quarter, its traffic remained very strong. It's not having trouble getting people in the stores; its same-store sales were up 5.2%, which beat the consensus estimate of 4.2%. Increased traffic actually drove this growth, rather than menu price increases. 

Don't overlook the pizza market
The pizza category is very big for the U.S. restaurant industry. The likes of Papa John's and Domino's are performing well because of the value they offer to consumers. It is a positive that Buffalo Wild Wings looks to tap some of this market with its PIzzaRev brand.

Domino's is the market leader in the delivery segment in the U.S. Meanwhile, it also ranks second in carry-out. That's because it has been a pioneer when it comes to digital. This area has been a key focus for the company, and it has a long-term goal of getting digital ordering to 50% of its sales. 

Domino's is also looking to expand its presence in international markets. It has had a lot of success abroad and it now operates in some 70 countries. The company has seen 80 straight quarters of positive same-store sales growth in international markets.

Papa John's doesn't plan to be left behind. It is looking to open over 200 restaurants in 2014, with the majority of the openings taking place in international markets. However, the company that embraces the movement toward healthier eating will win in the pizza market. For now, Papa John's may well be in the lead given its quality of ingredients.

Unlike Buffalo Wild Wings, Papa John's and Domino's do offer investors dividend yields of 1% and 1.3%, respectively. Domino's has a higher dividend yield thanks to its 2014 quarterly dividend payment increase of 25% earlier this year.

How is Buffalo trading?
Buffalo Wild Wings has a PEG ratio of 1.4, which is lower than those of Papa John's and Domino's. Buffalo Wild Wings trades with a P/E of 25 based on the earnings estimates for next year. Meanwhile, its shares have traded at an average P/E that's closer to 30 over the last ten years. Its return on equity has been nearly 17% and it has no debt. All in all, the company is strong and it's attractive from a valuation standpoint. 

Bottom line
Buffalo Wild Wings has a number of initiatives that should keep consumers coming to its stores. While the major pizza chains present great values, they are ideal for carry-out. Buffalo Wild Wings has proven to be a great place to dine in and enjoy a game. For investors who look to gain exposure to the casual-dining space, Buffalo Wild Wings looks to be a great opportunity.

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Marshall Hargrave has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Buffalo Wild Wings. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings and Papa John's International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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