Restaurants: Quick Service, Casual Dining, and More (Upscale)!

So I noticed the other day that The Wall Street Transcript had put out some interviews with stock experts all about the future of restaurant chains. It was interesting to see how the professionals’ thoughts lined up with mine. There are six interviews with various experts in the food and restaurant sectors, and here are some quotes and information about three of them:

First result when you Google Image Search for "food".

Chris O’Cull is part of the consumer team at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., where he concentrates on the restaurant sector. This interview is from 07/07/2010:

“Over the past few weeks, stocks have come under quite bit of pressure, so we think a lot of investors are looking for investment ideas. Casual dining will be one of those places, but there will also be interest in the regional fast food names because of the valuations. And so we would expect to see growing interest in those areas over the next several weeks. […] Some of our favorite stories are names like DineEquity (DIN), Jack in the Box (JACK) and Wendy’s/Arby’s Group (WEN). Those are our favorite stories right now.”

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Macy’s, Inc.: M

The second largest department store in the world is a Macy’s. The first largest (since 2009) is Shinsegae’s flagship store, but that’s all the way in Centum City, Busan, South Korea, and not right here. Also the Shinsegae store is more than twice the size of the Herald Square Macy’s, but whatever. And it has a golf course in it. And a movie theater and a spa. There’s also an ice skating rink, a gym, and an art gallery in there somewhere. Well, Macy’s, if you’re going to lose to something, it might as well be to this little Korean slice of heaven.

There is no shame in second place.

That’s not to say that Macy’s hasn’t had much to celebrate since its founding in 1858. During these many long years of life, Macy’s has invented tea bags and was the first retailer to both promote a woman to an executive position and obtain a New York City liquor license. Each of those things would be outstanding achievements individually, but that’s just how Macy’s been doing business for the last 152 years.

And the parades. We can't be forgetting about the lovely parades.

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Top 10 Best-Selling Video Games of 2009 and 2010

Sony Corporation (SNE), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), and Nintendo Co., Ltd (NTDOY) have been competing in the gaming arms race since 2001, during the sixth generation of console gaming (also known as the 128-bit era). It was a simpler time, and also Sega Corporation (SGAMY) still made hardware.

Sixth generation, from left: Sega Dreamcast, Sony's PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox

We are currently in the seventh generation, and the video games are more successful than ever. During the recession of 2007-2009, the industry posted record-setting total sales of $21.4 billion in 2008 (the best year the video game industry has ever seen, ever) and $19.66 billion in 2009. Further proof that gaming is a rock to be clung to in our roiling sea of economic uncertainty.

Rankings:

2009

#Rank Title Platform(s) Developer(s) Publisher(s)
#1 Wii Fit Wii Nintendo EAD Nintendo
#2 Wii Play Wii Nintendo EAD Nintendo
#3 Pokémon Platinum Version Nintendo DS Game Freak Nintendo, The Pokémon Company

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Burger King and McDonald’s are on Myspace. Kind of. Not Facebook.

Online social networking is popular. In the world of today, everyone with an internet connection is on some sort of social network. I don’t just mean Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc., but many websites have some social components that both registered and unregistered users can take advantage of. YouTube has their ill-advised comments sections, and many other sites, professional and otherwise, have added their own forums for members to discuss various issues in an array of topics.

Pictured: Friendship

Of course, many companies have since realized that there just might be something to this whole social network thing, after all. Most of these sites are free to join, and once you’re in you have free access to a virtually unlimited supply of potential customers. What’s not to love? While this might work out great for those who sell things online, infiltration on the internet front has not been translating as easily into the fast food industry. That is, until Wonka-Vision gets invented.

Go ahead, just reach out and take it.

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Match-Up: Quiznos vs. Subway

The Quiznos Master LLC. Doctor’s Associates Inc. (aka Subway). Two private fast food chains specializing in delicious subs at reasonable prices. A battle as old as memory itself. Which toasty sandwich restaurant will withstand the tests of time and come to reign supreme? We will just have to wait and see. Except it’s probably going to be Subway. Yeah, almost definitely Subway. Like the comparisons between Burger King and McDonald’s, the Quiznos/Subway conflict isn’t exactly the epic fight of the ages that it’s hyped up to be.

Kind of like this, only with submarine sandwich restaurants.

Quiznos, with their moderately wimpy collection 5,114 restaurants worldwide, is less than one-sixth the size of Subway’s 33,049 restaurant-strong empire (they are the biggest single restaurant chain on the planet). Personally, I prefer Quiznos over Subway; their meat doesn’t look as freeze-dried and the subs just taste better. However, like their analogous parallel Burger King, the second largest sub company in North America just loves wacky, sex-themed commercials that actually don’t make you want to eat anywhere near one of their restaurants.

Or does it? No. No it does not.

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Burger King Holdings, Inc.: BKC

First, I just have to say that Burger King tastes much better than McDonald’s. If ever the two were right next to each other, I would head straight for the BK and not think twice.

An easy decision, even if it is 20 meters farther.

Unfortunately for me, there are about 3 Golden Arches for every Burger King worldwide (32,478 Mickey D’s and 12,115 BK’s), and while many people like to compare Burger King to McDonald’s (they are, after all, the two largest burger restaurant chains in the world) it really isn’t as much of a contest as most make it out to be. McDonald’s has been a public company since 1965. Burger King didn’t go public until 2006, not including all the years of belonging to Pillsbury, Grand Metropolitan, Diageo et al. McDonald’s stock is valued somewhere over 5,500% higher than when it first went public. Burger King’s is just almost 2.6% higher.

It's much more one-sided than this awesome picture would have you believe.

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McDonald’s Corporation: MCD

It is pretty obvious why McDonald’s is among the most successful companies in the fast food industry — it’s quick, it’s easy, and they have the Dollar Menu, which made cheap food even cheaper. Also they are just the most convenient.

You can only have two.

No matter where you are, it is safe to assume that you are relatively close to one of McDonald’s 32,478 worldwide restaurants (6,262 are company-operated and 26,216 are franchised). If that doesn’t seem like a very impressive number, let me do some math. If you went to a different McDonald’s establishment every day of your life, you would reach the final McDonald’s just about a week before your 89th birthday, assuming no new McDonald’s opened up anywhere during your fairly extensive lifetime. So, just to recap, McDonald’s has about 3,862 more locations than there are days in the average U.S. citizen’s life expectancy.

Truly an impossible task.

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