Since its founding in 1954, Burger King (BKW) has been a staple among US fast food chains. Alongside Wendy’s (WEN) and McDonalds (MCD), the three fast food titans have supplied customers with tasty burgers for years. Among these three, however, Burger King has had the most tumultuous existence. The franchise has been bought and sold several times, mostly by owners with little interest in advancing its fast food footprint. However, finally, after being bought by 3G Capital, Burger King might now have a working business model (read more about popular restaurant stocks here).
3G Capital bought Burger King in 2010, and immediately set about streamlining the business and competing in a saturated market. Over the past decade new fast food players have gained significant traction; such companies include Chipotle (CMG) and Taco Bell (YUM). 3G Capital and Burger King’s new CEO, Daniel Schwartz, also know they must find a way to compete with these new magnates, while simultaneously increasing revenue.
Unlike Burger King, Chipotle is the only major fast food restaurant in the country that owns 100% of its operating restaurants. Both McDonalds and Wendy’s respectively own 19% and 18% of their stores. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Burger King owned 11% of its restaurants when it was acquired in 2010. That number has now dropped to 0.54%. Burger King’s corporate leaders have decided it's more profitable to cut operating costs and, instead, solely collect fees from private owners. This business strategy now results in the vast majority of Burger King’s revenue.
The other significant change in Burger King’s business model has been in its treatment of foreign markets. Fast food chains long battled over only American customers. Now these fast food conglomerates are expanding to foreign markets in Brazil, China, and Russia. Foreign businessmen are buying up old locations, in these countries, and are rebuilding the necessary infrastructure; however, these operational investments are essentially free for Burger King. Over 1,400 new international Burger King stores were opened in 2013. Such a turnaround has prompted tremendous growth.
As of 2012, Burger King has consistently surpassed earnings estimates. While stock prices for both McDonalds and Wendy’s are down this month, Burger King’s stock has risen 15%. With its new business model, Burger King has become a very attractive choice for investors. The company operates unlike any other fast food chain, and has found a way to streamline its business while increasing revenue.