Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. (BWLD) will likely not entice its chicken-wing enthusiasts with a boneless copout.
With the wholesale price of chicken wings soaring in the U.S., Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith announced on a company earnings call on Wednesday, July 26, that it would be axing its traditional half-price wing Tuesday promotion in favor of a boneless chicken-wing discount.
"It's going to be hard to sell boneless wings to the traditional chicken-wing lover," Jeremy Scott, Mizuho proteins and restaurant analyst, told TheStreet on Monday, July 31.
Scott said the traditional chicken wing promotion, a strong driver of sales for the restaurant chain, has been in place for some 30 years and could negatively impact Buffalo Wild Wings' same-store sales.
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"Our half-price wing Tuesday program has been successful in driving traffic and contributed 150 basis points to our same-store sales in the second quarter," Buffalo Wild Wings Chief Operating Officer James Schmidt said on Wednesday's earnings call. "As Sally mentioned, we are moving our Tuesday value offering in company-owned locations to a boneless BOGO (buy one get one) offer with company rollout through August and September."
On a national basis, wholesale wing prices were up 40%, and have been on the rise for the past 12 months due to heightened consumer demand coupled with a "tight chicken supply," according to Scott. The Wall Street Journal reported that chicken eggs placed in incubators are hatching at a much lower rate than is typical, the lowest rate since 2007.
Scott said typically there is a high consumer demand for chicken wings around the Super Bowl, in February, then it begins to drop off in April and May. This year, April and May saw an unusual spike in demand, which has held strong into the summer so far.
"It's very, very sticky," Scott said, estimating that wholesale wing prices will remain high for the next six months. He said any chain "with 'wing' in its name is going to be affected."
Fast-food chains that rely heavily on the sale of chicken wings include Wingstop Inc. (WING - Get Report) , Yum! Brands' Inc.'s (YUM - Get Report) KFC and the pizza chains including Yum's Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza Inc. (DPZ - Get Report) and Papa John's Int.l Inc.'s (PZZA - Get Report) .
On Wednesday, Buffalo Wild Wings reported second-quarter earnings of 66 cents a share on revenue of $500 million, a far cry from the earnings of $1.05 a share on revenue of $513 million that Wall Street expected. The company blamed its weak profits on the high cost of chicken wings.
Buffalo Wild Wings' same-store sales fell 1.2% in the quarter.
Facing pressure from activist investor Marcato Capital's Mick McGuire, Smith announced in June that she would be resigning from the CEO position before the end of the year. McGuire also won three dissident director positions on the company's nine-person board, including one for himself.
Year to date, Buffalo Wild Wings stock is down around 30%.
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Editors' pick: Originally published July 31.