Welcome to Shake Shack (SHAK) land, where the Wall Street gatekeepers consistently downplay one hell of a growth story.
Truth to tell: Shake Shack has done almost everything right since its sizzling IPO back in January 2015. It has given reasonable sales and earnings guidance to Wall Street, and then three months later often beats it handily. The company opted to lift wages for employees because, well, it was the right thing to do and better-paid workers are more productive workers -- see Walmart's (WMT) comeback story this year that coincided with wage hikes of its own. Still, the higher hourly wages haven't crushed Shake Shack's bottom line. It is delivering ahead of its store-opening plan. In other words, the company is securing great real estate faster than it thought and is getting into the groove on how to open restaurants faster. All that's a positive seeing as how Shake Shack has a long-term goal of more than 500 worldwide locations.
Meanwhile, unlike Chipotle (CMG) , Shake Shack has been full steam ahead at opening locations in key overseas markets. The stores in areas such as Tokyo have been mobbed literally since day one. Shake Shack's brand has been validated abroad, which is definitely not the case for many in the fast-food game. And to cap it off, CEO Randy Garutti is clearly borderline obsessed with Shake Shack and achieving greatness for the brand. Garutti's active Instagram feed certainly paints that picture, and it's nice to see a CEO engaged because they truly love their job. Indeed, most CEOs aren't like that -- not sure the last time Caterpillar's (CAT) outgoing, well-paid CEO Doug Oberhelman hopped into a dump truck and lifted some dirt for a show of good faith.