“No matter how you analyze the data, Buffalo Wild Wings is on the right track. Whether it’s annual same-store sales, average customer check, unit growth and volume –or the all-important popularity with and spending by the most populous generational segment, Millennials –we think Buffalo Wild Wings’ recipe for success is not one to be altered to accommodate a short-term and uncertain vision by a minority shareholder group.
Mark Jones, Vice Chairman of the Franchise Business Services Board of Directors (March 13, 2017, press release by Franchise Business Services)
“Collaborative initiatives between the Company and Franchisees around loyalty, order and pay at the table, merchant acquirer and EMV compliance, reduction of remodel costs, launch of a system-wide food safety program, food innovation, online ordering and delivery services are all examples of the efforts by current management to enhance the guest experience and increase store profitability.”
Wray Hutchinson, Chairman, Franchise Business Services
“We are listening to Marcato, but just because they are a five percent owner doesn’t mean they know…how to achieve even more success…[The franchisees that also own stock] will vote in support of our current Board members and…team.
Wray Hutchinson, Chairman of the independent franchise association (March 13, 2017, press release by Franchise Business Services)
“Management’s willingness to explore incremental shifts in strategy (e.g. acknowledging the need for a modest amount of refranchising, but well short of what some of the bulls would like to see), reducing unit development and significantly upping share repurchases are all steps in the right direction.”
Morgan Stanley, (February 2017)
“We believe the company’s more comprehensive strategic plan and aggressive share repurchase program better support the company for the longer-term.”
Telsey Advisory Group, (February 2017)
“New CFO Ware discussed his thoughts on the strength of the brand and of bringing some different business practices to the company, while emphasizing opportunities to reignite growth and unlock shareholder value through a five-point strategic plan. Multiple initiatives to drive sales, margins & earnings highlight a more aggressive approach, but execution now becomes the story. While it appears BWLD wasn't immune to casual dining sales headwinds in February, we're encouraged the brand returned to outperformance vs the industry and FY same-source sales guidance was unchanged.”
UBS, (March 2017)
“We were encouraged to hear that new initiatives in the QTD period have led to positive same-source sales growth and traffic, which we believe adds credibility to the Company's sales-driving initiatives.”
Stephens, (February 2017)
“Finally, recent activism from Marcato will undoubtedly involve an attempt to shift BWLD’s capital allocation strategy towards giving more cash back to shareholders via a shift towards a franchised store model and perhaps a cut in store growth. On one hand, there is certainly a logical argument to be made that BWLD should in fact pull back on its store growth platform, especially regarding new company-owned units. On the other hand, publicly-traded restaurants containing a modest top-line growth profile that are focused more on returning cash to shareholders generally carry forward earnings multiples in a high teen to low 20s range. We are therefore concerned the potential for a shift in strategy by BWLD to bulk up its shareholder return policy, while perhaps the correct decision at least in the short term, could place substantial pressure on the company’s valuation.”
Longbow Research, (January 2017)
“Despite the calls from activist investor, Marcato, to embark on a massive re-franchising effort, management indicated that no bids for locations had emerged over the past several months. We remain skeptical of a large-scale re-franchising effort and believe focusing efforts on improving sales and margins remains the best of use of management's time.”
Dougherty & Company, (October 2016)
“Aside from the logistical/operational issues of embarking on such a transformational strategy, our math does suggest there is accretion to shareholder value at current levels. However, it is more modest than some may believe and we are more attracted to BWLD’s risk/reward without pursuing a refranchising strategy.”
Oppenheimer, (September 2016)
 Permission to use quotations neither sought nor obtained.