Buffalo Wild Wings Isn’t in Season

by Dan Burrows | October 1, 2012 11:04 am

October kicks off the best part of the year for purveyors of beer and bar food. Just look at Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD[1]). From the NFL in the fourth quarter to NCAA March Madness closing out the first quarter, the next six months spice up sales and profit at the restaurant chain.

The stock, however, is not nearly as cooperative.

Maybe it’s because the market is forward-looking, trying to price events three to six months out, and the second quarter is when business is slowest for Buffalo Wild Wings. But when it comes to the current quarter, big business does not equal big returns.

Indeed, Buffalo Wild Wings — the sports-bar chain with about 840 locations in the U.S. and Canada — sees its stock slow dramatically in the fourth quarter compared with its performance over the rest of the year.

Since going public back in late 2003, BWLD’s stock is up more than 650%, but if history is any guide, don’t expect more hot gains in the three months ahead.

During the past nine years, BWLD has produced, on average, a negative return in October, dropping 0.1%, according to data from Thomson Reuters Stock Reports. November is historically a flat month for shares, while December is good, on average, for a 3.8% gain.

That’s right: Historically, we are in a dead-money period for BWLD — but unlike a bond, savings account or CD, this dead money generates no yield — and comes with the risk of capital depreciation.

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The charts are even more worrisome when looking at recent history:

BWLD always has been a high-growth momentum stock, and that’s a recipe for heartburn. Shares are up a market-beating 27% for the year-to-date, but they did so in dizzying fashion. The stock lost 18% in the span of four weeks starting late March, bounced back, then again plunged 18% over the course of a week in mid-July.

At the same time, BWLD has benefited from the market-wide risk-on trade that favors consumer cyclical stocks — yet it’s actually trailing its peer group over the last 52 weeks, according to Thomson Reuters data. Brinker International (NYSE:EAT[2]), Papa John’s (NASDAQ:PZZA[3]) and Cracker Barrel (NASDAQ:CBRL[4]) are just three names outperforming BWLD by at least 25 percentage points so far this year.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Wild Wings looks very pricey on both a trailing and forward earnings basis, trading at big premiums to its own five-year averages, according to Thomson Reuters.

Bottom line: Between the historically weak Q4 share performance and overpriced stock, BWLD is not a buy right now, whether you’re an active trader or a long-term investor.

As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. BWLD: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=BWLD
  2. EAT: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=EAT
  3. PZZA: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=PZZA
  4. CBRL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=CBRL

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