Top Restaurant Stocks for Q4 2022

DENN is top for value and ARCO is top for growth and momentum

The restaurant industry ranges from local mom-and-pop eateries to national and international chains. The industry is notoriously difficult for business owners, with about 60% of new restaurants failing within their first year. One reason for this is that restaurant spending tends to be heavily discretionary, fluctuating dramatically with the broader economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, financial pressure increased sharply on restaurants and restaurant chains as many of them faced rising costs, mounting debt, and falling sales. While sales have partly rebounded in the past year, restaurant owners are now grappling with inflation and the prospect of an economic recession. Some of the best-known publicly traded restaurants include McDonald's Corp. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

The restaurant industry, represented by the Dow Jones U.S. Restaurants & Bars Index, has outperformed the broader market with a total return of -7.3% over the past 12 months, as of Sept. 15, 2022. By comparison, the Russell 1000's total return over the same period is -13.1%. All statistics in the tables below are also as of Sept. 15, 2022.

Here are the top 3 restaurant stocks with best value, fastest growth, and most momentum.

Best Value Restaurant Stocks

These are the restaurant stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.

Best Value Restaurant Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio
Denny's Corp. (DENN) 10.04 0.6 6.4
Brinker International Inc. (EAT) 28.86 1.3 11.1
El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (LOCO) 9.13 0.3 12.9

Source: YCharts

  • Denny's Corp.: Denny's operates a franchised full-service restaurant chain. Denny's restaurants offer items including breakfast-all-day foods, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and various beverages, appetizers, and desserts. On July 20, Denny's announced that it had completed the acquisition of Keke's Breakfast Café, a restaurant chain specializing in breakfast and lunch dishes. The acquisition was valued at $82.5 million.
  • Brinker International Inc.: Brinker International owns, operates, and franchises the restaurant brands Chili's Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy, as well as virtual brands. The company operates principally in the U.S.
  • El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc.: El Pollo Loco Holdings is a holding company which operates El Pollo Loco restaurants. El Pollo Loco specializes in fire-grilled chicken and burritos, salads, tostadas, and bowls.

Fastest Growing Restaurant Stocks

These are the top restaurant stocks as ranked by a growth model that scores companies based on a 50/50 weighting of their most recent quarterly YOY percentage revenue growth and their most recent quarterly YOY earnings-per-share (EPS) growth. Both sales and earnings are critical factors in the success of a company. Therefore ranking companies by only one growth metric makes a ranking susceptible to the accounting anomalies of that quarter (such as changes in tax law or restructuring costs) that may make one or the other figure unrepresentative of the business in general. Companies with quarterly EPS or revenue growth of over 2,500% were excluded as outliers.

Fastest Growing Restaurant Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) EPS Growth (%) Revenue Growth (%)
Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. (ARCO) 7.44 1.6 250.0 49.8
Recipe Unlimited Corp. (RECP.TO) CA$20.62 CA$1.2 -15.2 62.1
Luckin Coffee Inc. (LKNCY) 17.30 4.6 N/A (see company description) 68.5

Source: YCharts and Sweetgreen Inc.

  • Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc.: Arcos Dorados Holdings is a Uruguay-based McDonald's franchisee. It operates 2,250 restaurants across Latin America and the Caribbean, making it the largest independent McDonald's franchisee in the world. The company reported Q2 2022 earnings results on Aug. 10. Net income attributable to the company nearly tripled year-over-year (YOY) on substantial revenue growth. The company cited growth across its digital, delivery, and drive-thru channels among factors contributing to performance.
  • Recipe Unlimited Corp.: Recipe Unlimited is a Canada-based full-service restaurant franchisor operating roughly 20 brands including Swiss Chalet, Harvey's, St-Hubert, and The Keg. On Sept. 1, Recipe announced that it had entered into an agreement to be purchased by 1000297337 Ontario Inc., a subsidiary of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. The purchaser will acquire all outstanding shares of Recipe for an estimated CA$1.2 billion ($900 million). The deal is expected to close in the final quarter of 2022
  • Luckin Coffee Inc.: Luckin Coffee is a China-based holding company that operates a coffee retail business. The company operates primarily through mobile apps and pick-up stores, selling fresh-brewed drinks, juices, and light meals. On Aug. 8, Jing An was appointed chief financial officer (CFO) of the company, succeeding Reinout Hendrik Schakel, who will continue to serve as Luckin's chief strategy officer. An was previously CFO of 58 Daojia Inc. Luckin does not have an EPS growth figure in the table above because it had negative EPS for the most recent quarter.

Restaurant Stocks With the Most Momentum

These are the restaurant stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.

Restaurant Stocks With the Most Momentum
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. (ARCO) 7.44 1.6 37.0
Compass Group PLC (CMPGY) 21.93 39.1 8.9
McDonald's Corp. (MCD) 253.47 186.5 7.6
Russell 1000 N/A N/A -13.1
Dow Jones U.S. Restaurants & Bars Index N/A N/A -7.3

Source: YCharts

  • Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc.: See above for company description.
  • Compass Group PLC: Compass Group is a British food and support services company. It provides services across 45 countries and five sectors.
  • McDonald's Corp.: McDonald's operates and franchises fast-food restaurants globally. The company's menu includes burgers, fries, sandwiches, a range of beverages, and more. In mid-September, McDonald's announced the launch of Speedee Labs, a new facility based in Chicago that will focus on finding new ways to drive customer experience and support the global chain's restaurant teams. The facility builds on McDonald’s Speedee Service System, introduced in 1948, which transformed the restaurant business by streamlined crew responsibilities as well as other steps.

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Article Sources
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  1. CNBC. "The No. 1 thing to consider before opening a restaurant."

  2. New York Times. "That Dinner Tab Has Soared. Here Are All the Reasons."

  3. New York Times. "In New York City, Pandemic Job Losses Linger."

  4. Wall Street Journal. "Restaurants Seek Federal Aid as Omicron Surge Threatens Another Hard Winter."

  5. YCharts. "Financial Data."

  6. Denny's Corp. "Denny’s Corporation Completes Acquisition of Keke’s Breakfast Café."

  7. Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. "2Q 2022 Results," Pages 5-6.

  8. Bloomberg. "Fairfax Proposes Taking Over Restaurant Group at 53% Premium."

  9. Recipe Unlimited Corp. "RECIPE UNLIMITED ENTERS INTO DEFINITIVE AGREEMENT WITH FAIRFAX."

  10. Luckin Coffee Inc. "Luckin Coffee Announces Senior Management Changes."

  11. Luckin Coffee Inc. "Luckin Coffee Inc. Announces Second Quarter 2022 Financial Results."

  12. McDonald's Corp. "McDonald’s To Open Speedee Labs Within Company’s Chicago Global Headquarters."

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