The Burger Wars: McDonald's Vs. Burger King Vs. Wendy's
In a new report, analysts at Citi Research pitted fast food rivals McDonald's Corporation (NYSE: MCD), Wendys Co (NASDAQ: WEN) and Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE: QSR)'s Burger King head-to-head in a six-part comparison of different aspects of their businesses.
Analysts picked a winner in each category and then declared a champion.
1. Domestic Outlook
Analysts like Wendy's refranchising and image activation plan that stretches through 2020. However, they also point out that Burger King has the strongest same-store sales growth in recent years and has done well with product innovation such as Chicken Fries.
Winner: Tie between Wendys and Burger King
2. International Outlook
McDonald's has the largest international presence, but growth opportunities are limited. Wendys has had limited success internationally. Burger King, however, opened 735 net new international locations in 2014 versus only 30 net domestic closures.
Winner: Burger King
3. Promotion And Product Innovation
McDonalds’ recent performance struggles have led to an increased innovative urgency. The company is moving toward antibiotic-free chicken, raising worker wages and testing all-day breakfast at certain locations. However, the simplicity and effectiveness of Burger King's recent product additions are most impressive to analysts.
Winner: Burger King
4. Digital, Mobile And Loyalty
While Burger King and Wendys are ahead of McDonalds as far as mobile and technology incorporation is concerned, analysts believe that mobile solutions have proven to be most effective with coffee-based chains such as Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ: DNKN) and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX). Analysts believe that McDonald's McCafe locations and products could benefit most from digital and mobile initiatives in the long-term.
Winner: Three-way tie
5. Store Economics And Capital Structure
McDonalds’ average unit volume and franchisee cash flows are best-in-class, and its balance sheet suggests it could support additional leverage. In addition, there has been recent speculation of a possible REIT conversion, which could further unlock value for shareholders.
While McDonald's stock is the cheapest based on forward EV/EBITDA, analysts believe that Wendy's 13.2X 2016 EBITDA offers shareholders the best value and near-term outlook. Wendy's stock has also outperformed its two rivals over the past year.
A Champion Declared
Overall, Burger King came out on top in the most categories and goes home the victor in the burger wars. Citi has a Buy rating on Restaurant Brands and Wendys and a Neutral rating on McDonald's.
Latest Ratings for WEN
|Jan 2017||Longbow Research||Downgrades||Buy||Neutral|
|Nov 2016||Goldman Sachs||Downgrades||Buy||Neutral|
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