Shares of Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ: BWLD) fell 11.8% in June 2017, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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The sports-bar brand has seen its sales growth stalling in recent quarters, triggering declines in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) profits and bottom-line earnings. The situation came to a head in June, as longtime CEO Sally Smith announced her retirement and the company started to implement strategies from the playbook of activist investor firm Marcato Capital Management. These moves included spinning out 83 corporate Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants to franchisees and a test launch of smaller "B-Dubs Express" stores.
Here's the thing: Smith always ran B-Dubs with an eye on the long term, mindful of dangerous debt balances and emphasizing the value of excellent customer service. The recent revenue slump just happens to match up with the company's brand-new taste for long-term debt papers, which are financing a faster expansion of the restaurant network.
I'm not at all sure that Marcato's get-rich-quick mentality will work for Buffalo Wild Wings, and may actually destroy more shareholder value than it creates in the long run. Investors should be wary of what comes next, with Sally Smith on the sidelines and a mounting pile of long-term debt balances.
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