The following article is part of The Motley Fool's "Stock Madness 2005," a contest based loosely on the annual NCAA College Basketball Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness. From March 17 to April 4, our writers and analysts will engage in head-to-head competition with each other, advocating and arguing on behalf of 64 stocks we've selected as among the most interesting to Foolish investors. You, dear readers, are the fans and referees -- you'll read these exciting duels and then vote for the stock you think is the better investment... and should therefore move on to the next round of play. The company that survives six "games" will be our tournament champion, and its writer our most valuable "coach."
But, please, make no mistake -- "Stock Madness 2005" is a GAME!
Our writers are doing this for fun. They are enjoying the spirit of competition and the art of debate. They are delighting in the search for positives in the companies they've drawn... and negatives in the companies they're pitted against. They are NOT necessarily recommending these stocks as the ones they believe in above all others. As ever, YOU must decide whether the stocks we're writing about -- winners and losers -- are deserving of your investment dollars.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Minneapolis , Minn.
52-week low-high: $25.50-$41.70
$329 million market cap
By Tim Beyers (TMFMileHigh)
Fit Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick BuffaloWild Wings for the glass slipper, Fool, because we're the Cinderella in this matchup with PetroKazakhstan, which is nearly nine times larger. But where they have size, we have speed, and we're planning a fast break to victory.
The numbers favor us, too. Small-cap stocks trounced large caps for the sixth straight year in 2004. And Buffalo Wild Wings is the classic small cap. Before you discount that, listen to Foolish colleague and current opponent Bill Mann explain the importance of being small in coaching Cryptologic
Now, take that same statement and make the relevant substitutions for this matchup. To wit: Which seems more likely -- that PetroKazakhstan would double to become a $6 billion company, or that Buffalo Wild Wings would triple to become a billion-dollar company?
Before you answer, consider that Buffalo Wild Wings has roughly 300 stores now, with plans to open 1,000. That might be an issue if the company didn't generate enough owner earnings to finance 15 new store openings a year without touching a dime of its net $42 million in savings. And it's bound to grow that total.
Indeed, Buffalo Wild Wings has boosted owner earnings more than 44% annually over the past three years, and there's no sign of that pace abating. That makes for an enterprise value-to-owner/earnings-to-owner earnings growth rate of just 0.06%. No wonder Fool co-founder and Hidden Gems chief analyst Tom Gardner is expecting at least a triple from the stock over the next five years. But he's not the only one. When Tom first recommended Buffalo Wild Wings, institutional ownership sat under 40%. Now it's 60%. Go with those voting with their wallets. Vote for Buffalo Wild Wings.
Calgary , Canada
52-week low-high: $24.79-$46.92
$3.03 billion market cap
By Bill Mann (TMF Otter)
Chicken wings! Brilliant idea! And beer! Unbelievable! People will come flocking!
An admission: I love buffalo wings. Flaming hot, stain your finger, feel like an unrefined carnivore -- chicken wings. I also can name, off the top of my head, about 40 places here in Northern Virginia where I can get them. None of these places is a Buffalo Wild Wings.
This is not to say that the company doesn't have plenty of growth left before it. With 250 stores nationwide, concentrated in Ohio, clearly there are plenty of markets left to crack. The problem, as I see it, is that so much of that future growth has already been priced into the stock. Further, while buffalo wings and beer is a great concept, it's hardly novel. You can get wings and beer at Hooters (I mean, so I'm told). You can get 'em at the dozens of specialty wings and beer places, such as Atomic Wings. You can get buffalo wings at bars. Not just some bars, but plum near all of them.
And for this we're to pay 45 times earnings? I don't wish to say that this is a bad bet. I really don't think it is. But it isn't eye-searingly cheap, either. It's a crowded market, and though BW3 may be the class of the business, imitators are everywhere, and sprouting faster. A cheery consensus can come very, very dear.
On the other hand, let me reintroduce PetroKazakhstan, a large oil exploration and production company with almost all of its operations in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. It trades at a P/E of less than 6. It is buying back shares. It pays a dividend on its cash generation. It is in the process of increasing its oil production at the Kyzylkiya (would you like to buy a vowel?) and Kolzhan (gesundheit!) fields up to 170,000 barrels of oil per day, up from this past year's 151,000.
That's right. As I've noted, Kazakhstan is in the process of building a pipeline to China, so its oil transport will be substantially cheaper, and PetroKazakhstan is preparing to increase production. All while paying out a dividend and buying back shares, for a price multiple that discounts little more than misery.
Oil vs. chicken wings. I know which I'd rather eat, certainly. I also know where the better risk-adjusted returns lie. And those two places are not the same.
Bill Mann owns shares in PetroKazakhstan.
Yep, I can get beer and wings dozens of places. But you could get Mexican food on every corner when Peter Lynch bought Taco Bell. And has it made a difference to McDonald's
In answer to Tim's question, "Which seems more likely -- that PetroKazakhstan would double to become a $6 billion company, or that Buffalo Wild Wings would triple to become a billion-dollar company?" -- I say the former is more likely.
I anticipate that PetroKazakhstan will be an extremely attractive takeover candidate for one of the large integrated oil companies. -- B.M.
Who won? Go here to cast your vote.
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