Despite the general shift among consumers toward healthy and organic foods, as well as the recent surge of interest in alternative meat companies, the good old-fashioned hamburger is enjoying a moment of its own. While fast food and casual dining are still dominated by a handful of giants, there are plenty of feisty upstarts eager to challenge the status quo.
Here are three small companies that have become renowned in recent years for the quality of their burgers, as well as their equally delicious financials.
One of the world's fastest-growing burger chains, Shake Shack (SHAK -0.73%) began life as a humble food stand in New York City's Madison Square Park. Founder Danny Meyer's combination of high-quality ingredients and fast service resulted in lines so long that one customer set up a webcam so those at the back of the queue could get an idea of what all the fuss was about. Nowadays, fans are queuing up at outlets across the globe, from London to Shanghai.
On the back of its word-of-mouth popularity and growing global presence, Shake Shack made its public market debut in January 2015. Initially priced at $21, shares soared more than 120% to $47 on the first day of trading. The company celebrated the momentous day by offering a variety of free menu items to its customers.
Since then, the story has been one of continuous growth. Last year, the company built 49 restaurants in eight different markets. In its most recent earnings report, Shake Shack announced that its traffic volume is still rising, even as it moves from the world of the start-up to that of the acknowledged fast-food empire.
Founded back in 1993 by Wayne Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse (TXRH 0.56%) rose to national attention within a few years for its exceptional steaks and burgers, and its playful Western theme that incorporates everything from cooking contests to line dancing.
Beyond seeing huge share price growth since its initial public offering in 2004, Texas Roadhouse has had a strong run recently. Last year, it saw double-digit revenue growth, and it surpassed expectations in its most recent quarterly report.
With locations in almost every U.S. state, and outlets as far off as Kuwait and Taiwan, Texas Roadhouse has proven to be a very stable stock that attracts investors with its strong cash flow and nice dividend history.
The Habit Burger Grill (HABT) may not be as well-known as some of its larger competitors, but the fast-casual chain has huge room for growth.
Founded in California in the late '60s as a family owned business, the company has acquired a reputation for producing some of the finest fast food available. Indeed, in 2014, The Habit's "Charburger" was named by Consumer Reports as the best burger in America. With fewer than 300 stores worldwide, more than half of which are in its home state, The Habit is still a pygmy compared to what it could become.
The Habit started life on the stock market at around the same time as Shake Shack, and pulls in a similar amount of annual revenue. Yet the company is priced at less than a tenth of its more famous rival, meaning that an investment in this up-and-comer has the potential to go a long way indeed.
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