The average American eats out 5.8 times a week. That translates to more than $2,600 spent per person annually. The restaurant industry continues to see the positive impact of this trend, with increased same-store sales growth and expansion. The restaurant segment is highly fragmented. Several sectors exist in the industry with quick service restaurants, fast casual, casual dining and fine dining. A shift to fast casual has put hard times in front of quick service, which remains a high revenue-driving sector with strong dividends in most cases. Fast casual still has a huge opportunity to scale across the country.
Investors have a lot of options when it comes to restaurant investments. Fast food giants are publicly traded, as are smaller growing brands that are taking on the fast casual market. Only one restaurant company appears in the Dow Jones Composite Average. When it comes to getting access to a basket of restaurant stocks, there is one pure play exchange-traded fund (ETF) and several others that have high percentages of holdings in the restaurant sector.
1. The Restaurant ETF
Investors looking for restaurant ETFs should begin with the Restaurant ETF, a new offering from the ETF Managers Group. The fund offers exposure to quick service restaurants, fast casual, casual dining and fine dining. The fund also covers restaurants of every size, with major players and up-and-coming brands currently moving beyond regional expansion.
The Restaurant ETF went public in October, investing in stocks with market capitalizations greater than $200 million and more than $1 million in annual turnover. In a bit of a twist, the fund is also equally weighted, giving equal exposure to all restaurants included. This gives investors a great opportunity to profit from all of the different sizes of restaurants and the different subsectors.
Top holdings in November 2015 included Chuy's Holdings, McDonald's and Starbucks. It also includes small growing restaurant brands, such as Kona Grill, Del Frisco's Restaurant Group and El Pollo Loco among its holdings. Newer public companies such as Noodles & Company, Zoes Kitchen, The Habit Burger, Shake Shack and Del Taco are also among the 50 restaurants represented by the fund.
As of November, the ETF had $2.5 million in assets under management (AUM). The fund rebalances semi-annually in June and December. The fund does have one of the pricier expense ratios at 0.75%, but it is the only pure play ETF on restaurants.
2. PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF
The PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage ETF (NYSEARCA: PBJ) gives great exposure to food and drink manufacturers along with some exposure to restaurants. The ETF has 92% of its assets in consumer staples and 8% in consumer discretionary stocks.
This ETF has around $240 million in AUM and charges an expense ratio of 0.58%. This PowerShares ETF shows a strong history of performance. Its one-year performance is a gain of 15%; over three years, the fund is up 21%.
The restaurant stocks included in this ETF are Starbucks and Papa John's. These two companies made up 5.4% and 2.2% of the ETF, respectively, as of November 2015. Starbucks was the largest holding of the entire ETF at the time. It’s also worth noting that Sysco, one of the top restaurant food suppliers, is a top 10 holding at 5%.
3. Consumer Discret Sel Sect SPDR ETF
The cheapest expense ratio for a restaurant-related ETF is the Consumer Discret Sel Sect SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA: XLY), a State Street offering. The fund has been around since 1998 and currently has $11.8 billion in AUM. Investors pay an expense rate of 0.14% to gain exposure to some of the largest consumer stocks that are publicly traded.
Among the restaurant holdings in this ETF are McDonald's, Starbucks, Yum Brands, Chipotle and the Darden Restaurant Group. McDonald's and Starbucks are top 10 holdings in the ETF, each representing around 4% of the total portfolio.
In the last year, the ETF is up over 20%. The fund has gained more than 23% in the last three years. Along with the exposure to several restaurants, the ETF holds stakes in top consumer brands such as Amazon.com, Disney and Home Depot.
4. PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entmnt ETF
The PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entmnt ETF (NYSEARCA: PEJ) holds a great basket of stocks across several industries. The fund has assets in airlines, travel, media, cruise, casino and restaurant companies. Investors pay an expense rate of 0.63% to gain exposure to 30 different stocks.
This ETF, started in 2005, has grown 14% over the last year and more than 21% in the last three years. Despite the fact that the holdings having an average market cap of $24.2 billion, the fund has great exposure across several different sizes. In fact, small-cap stocks make up the largest percentage at 46%, with large-cap stocks representing 36% of assets.
The key restaurant stocks in the fund are Starbucks, Dave & Buster's, Sonic, Jack in the Box, Darden Restaurants, the Cheesecake Factory, Denny's and Papa John's. Starbucks is the fund's second-largest holding, with 5.3% of assets. Airlines make up a large percentage of the fund, with 33% of assets as of November 2015.
5. PowerShares S&P SmCap Cnsmr Discret ETF
The PowerShares S&P SmCap Cnsmr Discret ETF (NYSEARCA: PSCD) invests in small-cap stocks, or those with market capitalizations generally below $2 billion. The fund has more than 90 holdings and charges a reasonable expense ratio of 0.29%. The average market capitalization of the holdings is $1.6 billion.
The restaurant and leisure sub-segment is the second-largest represented segment in this ETF, behind specialty retail. Over 21% of the fund is committed to restaurant and leisure stocks. Investors gain exposure to companies that include Texas Roadhouse, Papa John's, Sonic Restaurants, DineEquity, Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, Red Robin Gourmet Burger, BJ's Restaurants, Bob Evans, Ruth's Hospitality Group, Biglari Holdings and Ruby Tuesday.
This fund hasn't performed as well as the others, with a one-year gain of 6% and a three-year gain of 17%. However, you do get good exposure to small-cap stocks, which have been the best-performing stocks over the long term. The investment in smaller restaurant stocks allows for gains from national expansion and scalability.