Buffalo Wild Wings receives $2.3 billion offer
Shares of Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) are sharply higher following a Wall Street Journal report saying that private-equity firm Roark Capital Group has made a bid for the company.
According to the report, Roark offered to pay “more than $150 a share,” or more than $2.3 billion, for Buffalo Wild Wings.
Buffalo Wild Wings has faced some trouble over the last year, as the company struggles with high wing costs and declining sales at stores open for at least 15 months.
Activist investors at Marcato Capital Management won several board seats during the summer and are pushing the company to franchise more of its restaurants and improve its technology.
#Mizuho analyst Jeremy Scott wrote to clients that “we can only speculate as to whether or not this bid was solicited.” But he also thinks the company’s board is likely taking the offer seriously. “We anticipate that the activist refranchising initiative may have faced growing resistance both internally and externally,” he adds.
Wells Fargo analyst Jeff Farmer has “conviction in a potential Roark acquisition,” due to the company’s financial struggles as of late and its “leadership void” — CEO Sally Smith announced her resignation on the same day that Marcato won its board seats.
He thinks that there is “modest opportunity for a competing bid” but isn’t sure if one will come around. On one hand, investors might feel that a $150/share bid undervalues the company. But interested bidders might not want to pay much more for Buffalo Wild Wings given falling traffic and weak financials at the chain.
Credit Suisse analyst Jason West says he views the offer as a modest surprise given the latter’s negative same store sales and margins trends in recent years. The analyst reiterates a Neutral rating on Buffalo Wild Wings’ shares.
Maxim analyst Stephen Anderson notes yesterday’s press speculation of a bid for Buffalo Wild Wings from Roark Capital, saying that while the $150/share price is “plausible”, there is potential for a competing bid given the company-specific initiatives to cut expenses and an improving food cost climate.
Anderson says that despite the industry headwinds and the pending exit of CEO Sally Smith, the company is laying the groundwork for a return to SSS growth, margin expansion, and increased shareholder returns.
The analyst also says the recent decline in spot wing costs, already down 15% since summer end, will add to EPS next year. Anderson keeps his Buy rating and $160 price target on Buffalo Wild Wings.
Stifel analyst Chris O’Cull said he thinks Roark could be a credible buyer given its success with several restaurant investments, including Wingstop, and that BWW could be a willing seller given Marcato’s involvement and the company’s recent struggles defining a clear vision for improving shareholder value. O’Cull has a Hold rating and $115 price target on Buffalo Wild Wings shares.
BWLD closed at $117.25. It last traded at $148.40.
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