Cowen “Dead” Consumer Conference


I just spent the past two days in NYC at the Cowen Consumer Conference. I attended a bunch of presentations, including Chipotle, BJ’s Restaurants, Papa John’s, Texas Roadhouse, Peet’s Coffee,  and Morton’s. Overall, as you would imagine the tenor of the speakers was cautious and often downbeat.


Monty Moran and Steve Els, the new Co-CEOs at Chipotle gave one the most upbeat presentations. Although they expect unit margin contraction to decline to the 19% level in 2009, they are going full steam ahead to open 135-145 units this year. They are also forecasting positive same store sales in low single digits in 2009. I think that Chipotle benefits from serious trade-down by consumers from typical casual dining chains. The Grace family are all big fans of Chipotle. I gave Chipotle gift cards to each of my sons in their Christmas stocking. I’d buy CMG.B below $40….do not buy CMG as it is typically $5 more, and yet the B shares have 10x voting rights……one of those weird situations. Someday CMG will likely retire the B shares at par…..

You can view their slide presentation by clicking here.


One of my other favorite concepts that is very well positioned for this RePression we are going through is BJ Restaurants BJRI, led by industry veteran Jerry Deitchle. BJ’s has a $12 check average, and generates great returns as 40% of their sales come from pizza and handcrafted beer…..nice margin items. Jerry is one of my favorite CEO’s  – a true methodical professional. I’d buy BJRI below $9.

You can view Jerry’s webcast by clicking here


Another good performer in the restaurant space is Texas Roadhouse TXRH

You can view their presentation by clicking here

Thanks very much to Cowen’s excellent restaurant analyst Paul Westra and new investment banker, Andy Barish for their warm hospitality. They hosted a great reception at Bluefin that Ned IV and I attended.


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