Shares of Shake Shack more than doubled on the first day of trading Friday, as investors feasted on a chance to get a piece of the New York burger chain before it opens hundreds of additional restaurants in the U.S.
Shake Shack’s stock was trading at around $49 per share early in Friday’s session, a roughly 133% gain above the $21 initial offering price that was set on Thursday evening. The company had initially anticipated a share price in the range of $14 to $16, but investor enthusiasm prompted the company to raise that range by $3 on Wednesday. Shares are trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SHAK.”
A bet on Shake Shack, a fast-casual restaurant operator with just 63 global locations, is an investment in a company that could one day become the next Chipotle (CMG). Those two chains are the model that all other fast-casual chains could one day aspire to achieve. Fast-casual restaurants have menus that are filled with food that consumers perceive as healthier fare than what fast-food competitors sell, but without the table service found at casual dining chains.
Though Shake Shack is growing — generating nearly $79 million in “Shack sales” for the first nine months of 2014 — there are some worries that growth at stores that have been open for at least two years has slowed.
Shake Shack can be seen as more thrilling investment than McDonald’s (MCD), which this week saw the resignation of its CEO after a string of poor sales. But the newer chain is also facing stiff competition from other fast-casual burger chains such as Smashburger and Five Guys. And McDonald’s, while it faces major challenges, still booked $4.8 billion in profit last year.
Burger chains are in prime position, at least when it comes to prevailing trends in the restaurant world. Nine billion servings of burgers were ordered at U.S. restaurants and foodservice outlets last year, an increase of 3% from 2013, despite weakness in traffic at other restaurants, according to research firm NPD Group. That indicates the burger chains can court rising consumer interest in their core menus.
History was on Shake Shack’s side when it debuted on Friday. The fast-casual chains that have debuted on the market the past decade have reported an average gain of 95% on their first day of trading, according to IPO ETF manager Renaissance Capital. If Shake Shack’s early pop holds until the end of the day, it will have reported the best first-day performance among the seven restaurant chains that have gone public over the last 10 years.
Of the now seven fast-casual chains Renaissance Capital tracked, only Chipotle has been on the stock market for greater than two years. It listed in 2006 and has gained over 3,100% from its IPO price, suggesting investors are willing to place a bet on what could be the next huge concept in the category.