Wednesday, October 31, 2007

People Love Ignoring Valuations: BWLD vs. CMG

The events of last night and today, concerning two stocks, literally baffle me.

The two stocks are Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG).

Both companies reported earnings last night.

CMG came into earnings trading at a 80 trailing P/E and a 50+ forward P/E. Perfection is clearly already priced in. BWLD, on the other hand, traded at a much more modest 40 trailing, high-20s-forward P/E. It wasn't cheap, but it was clearly cheapER.

Chipotle reported numbers that were in-line with estimates. They had a mixed future outlook; they plan to open new stores internationally, but at the same time, existing store sales are expected to fall from 12% this past quarter, to "high single digits" for all of 2007, to "low to mid-single digits" for 2008.

Though the new stores will be a source of growth, a company cannot expand infinitely. Don't you think investors might be shaken by the bleak outlook for future same-store sales growth?

At the same time, Buffalo Wild Wings reported revenue that met the street's expectations, with earnings that were just two pennies lower. They, however, reiterated their forecast for next year: 15% unit growth, 20% revenue growth, and 25% earnings growth. (They had the same goals this year, and have met them thus far). There are some minor challenges, like gambling licenses in Las Vegas and higher prices due to bigger wings. However, the overall outlook was very promising without any glaring problem.

So how did Wall Street react to these two different reports? Logically, you'd expect BWLD to be flat, or even up, while CMG seems like it should be flat or down.

However, rationality is apparently dead amongst investors.

Buffalo Wild Wings dropped almost 30% at one point. Currently, it's trading down 20%.
Chipotle is UP $5, or 4%.

To me, this is literally insane. How do investors see any value in a company with a 55 forward P/E? Yes, the company is growing quickly, but it can't grow as quickly forever, and mature companies DON'T have P/Es of 55.

McDonalds has a forward P/E of 19. Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco bell, and more) has a forward P/E of 21.

Buffalo Wild Wings is now trading at that same valuation - a 21 forward P/E. The company is supposed to grow at 25% - much better than YUM's 17%.

Chipotle has grown very quickly over the past, but is only predicted to grow at about the same 25% next year.

As a value oriented investor, I'm buying BWLD. I actually purchased some after-hours yesterday (because I thought at 15% decline after the non-awful numbers was a little dramatic), and I picked up some more today after it dropped a few more points.

I have no position in CMG, but I wouldn't be long right now. Who knows, maybe hysteria will pump CMG to 160 while BWLD hangs around 30 for the next month or two. But as a long-term value investor, I see value in Buffalo Wild Wings, and nothing but hype in Chipotle.

1 comment:

GroundState said...

Good post. Could not agree more, I've owned both. I sold CMG some time ago - too rich for me. Missed some profit to be sure. I bought more BWLD yesterday. It's insane - but it's also the opportunity we're looking for.

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