The market crash in March provided an opportune time for investors to scoop up good stocks at great prices, which is what many of the smartest people on Wall Street did. Riding the coattails of investing gurus isn't a bad way to get stock ideas. So use their stock picks as the starting points for your own investing investigation.
A finger-lickin'-good pick
Few people think it's a good idea to bet against Warren Buffett, but not only did Pershing Square Capital Management's Bill Ackman recently sell all of his stock in Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 0.01%) (BRK.B -0.57%), he also loaded up on shares of Restaurant Brands International (QSR -0.61%) as Buffett was selling out of the last of his stake in the home of Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons.
Investors might just want to follow Ackman's lead and ignore Buffett. It could be the Oracle of Omaha has soured on restaurant stocks after they were decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and have a difficult future before them in an age of social distancing, but there are good reasons to bet on the fast food chains.
Quick-serve restaurants are better positioned than casual dining chains because their business is largely built around takeout, whether at the counter or via the drive-thru window. McDonald's (MCD -0.82%) in particular has taken a leadership role in digitally transforming its drive-thru menu board, even buying an artificial intelligence company to assist the effort. Although Burger King and Tim Hortons have lagged behind, Restaurant Brands is moving forward with a massive upgrade plan, intending to have about half of its burger joints and most of its coffee shops outfitted with digital menu boards.
The Popeyes chain, on the other hand, continues to outperform virtually every fast food chain, notching comparable sales that were 25% or better over the first six months of 2020. In comparison, Yum! Brands' (YUM -0.70%) KFC chain reports comps are down 15% year to date.
Since all restaurants suffered a setback due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it gives Restaurant Brands International the chance to make up the lost ground and missed opportunity.
Ready to ride
Private equity firm Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb -- founded by the late William Cunniff, a Benjamin Graham-style value investor -- has turned its attention to Walt Disney (DIS -0.15%), which found most of its operating businesses devastated by the pandemic. Its theme parks were closed, its cruise line drydocked, and its movie studio went dark, causing the entertainment giant to even suspend its dividend.
Business is only in the very first inning of recovery, but the hedge fund and the market see it bouncing back. Shares have soared 71% since their March low point, putting it only about 10% below its 52-week high. There's reason to believe the run higher is not finished.
The Disney+ streaming service is approaching its one-year anniversary and is roundly viewed as a massive success, already reaching over 60 million subscribers. It's worth noting that threshold was Disney's target to hit by 2024.
While Disney is a mix of different businesses, they are intertwined. A movie may spur the development of a theme park ride or give rise to a TV show, and then the spin-off of toys and other merchandise. Its theme parks are reopening, movie theaters are beginning to reopen so studios will soon begin producing films again, and the cash-generating machine that was mostly put on hold during the health crisis is slowly beginning to crank up production again as pent up demand for its offerings is unleashed.
Over the long run, Disney has been a huge performer. An investor who put $10,000 into Disney stock a half century ago would have seen it turn into more than $753,000 at the end of last year, and that's not even including dividends. In just the past decade, the stock price has nearly quadrupled. Being able to buy the House of Mouse at a discount to previous high valuations is an opportunity not to be missed.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that the 50-year return for Disney was a 10-year return. The author and the Fool regret the error.