Last Updated on 08/28/2021 by GS Staff
Is Whataburger Publicly Traded?
No. Whataburger is a private company headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. Since the business is private, the general public cannot purchase shares of Whataburger stock. It does not trade on an exchange, have a stock symbol, or have a stock price.
Who Owns Whataburger?
The company was started by Harmon Dobson in 1950 as a burger stand located in Corpus Christi, Texas. By 1960, Harmon had 17 restaurants and opened the first out-of-state chain in Florida followed by a location in Tennessee. Mr. Dobson tragically died in a plane crash in 1967 which resulted in Grace, Harmon’s wife, taking over the helm of the business. Grace helped grow the restaurant count to over 200 during the 1970s with locations in 12 states. The 1980s saw the addition of over 100 restaurants, an expanded menu, and 24/7 operating hours at select Whataburgers. The 1990s saw a new president and CEO of the company as Tom Dobson stepped into the role. The burger chain also hit a milestone when it opened its 500th restaurant during the decade. Today, Whataburger has more than 850 restaurants of which over 700 are in Texas.
So, who owns Whataburger today? Whataburger had been solely family-owned since it opened in 1950. However, the family sold a majority stake to BDT Capital Partners in June 2019. BDT Capital is a privately held investment firm based out of Chicago that owned stakes in other notable restaurants including Panera Bread and Krispy Kreme.
The sale got a few fans of Whataburger to worry that the company would material change the menu, among other potential unwanted adjustments. However, Whataburger assured customers that the business strategy would remain the same with this Tweet:
An inside look at Whataburger business strategy pic.twitter.com/b4SY2SRstX— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) June 15, 2019
Expansion has been cited as the primary reason that the Dobson family decided to sell a majority stake. The expansion rollout has included a new franchise model. Franchising is something that Whataburger has stayed away from for 20 years. In addition to franchising, remodeling a select number of locations has also been taking place. Some people wonder if Whataburger can maintain a family business atmosphere when the company has moved into a more corporate franchise model.
Will Whataburger Go Public?
We have no reason to believe that Whataburger will go public. Things in business often get interesting when there is a change in majority ownership. However, BDT Capital Partners appears willing to keep in place a private family-style company that franchises, similar to Chick-fil-a. Of course, it is virtually impossible to tell what is really going on inside a private unless you are truly on the inside. You should expect Whataburger to remain private for the foreseeable until you potentially hear otherwise.
Publicly Traded Competitors
Below are several publicly traded companies that compete with Whataburger that you may want to research for potential investment:
- Shake Shack – Shake Shack can be found trading on the NYSE under the ticker, SHAK. It is one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the United States. The fiscal year 2020 revenue was approximately $523 million. Shake Shack had 311 restaurants at the end of 2020 and plans to open 35 to 40 new units in 2021 and 45 to 50 units in 2022, according to its 2020 annual report.
- McDonald’s – It is the leader of quick-service restaurants. The company trades under MCD on the NYSE. It had more than 39,000 restaurants in 2020. across the world. The fiscal year 2020 revenue was about $19.2 billion. The 2020 annual report for the company indicates that they plan to open 1,300 restaurants globally in 2021, 500 of which are projected to be in the U.S.
- Wendy’s – Wendy’s has the ticker symbol WEN. The fiscal year 2020 revenue was approxiamtely $1.7 billion. It is known to be the 2nd biggest quick-service restaurant for burgers/fries in America based on traffic share. At the close of 2020, Wendy’s had 6,828 restaurants worldwide.
- Restaurant Brands International – Restaurant Brands International trades under the ticker symbol QSR on the NYSE. The business owns popular restaurant chains that include Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons. At the end of 2020, it had 18,625 Burger Kings, 3,451 Popeyes, and 4,949 Tim Hortons. Its revenue was approximately $4.97 billion for the year.
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers – Red Robin has the stock symbol RRGB and trades on the Nasdaq. There were about 540 Red Robin Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada during the first quarter of 2021. The company indicated 2020 revenue was about $868.72 million.
- Jack in the Box – Jack in the Box trades under the fitting ticker symbol, JACK. As of September 2020, it had about 2,240 restaurants that were primarily in the West and South of America. Its fiscal year 2020 revenue was approxiamtely $1 billion.
Image Credit – Frankieleon/flickr
Linton, C. (2019, June 15). Texas Burger Chain WHATABURGER SELLS majority stake to Chicago investment bank. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whataburger-sold-majority-stake-to-chicago-investment-bank-bdt-capital-partners/.