Return of the king

McDonald’s has been eating Burger King’s lunch for more than a decade

June 2, 2014
June 2, 2014

It’s been a tough decade for Burger King.

The long-time rival to McDonald’s has seen its share of the US fast-food burger market erode steadily since 2000, when it controlled nearly 19% of market. Last year, Burger King’s share had dwindled to 11.2%, according to data from market research firm Technomic, which was cited in a recent note from analysts at Morgan Stanley. Burger King’s market share loss amounted to gains for virtually every other fast-food burger joint, especially McDonald’s, which dominates the US burger market. McDonald’s controlled 47.3% of the market last year.

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Why has Burger King lost ground? Morgan Stanley analysts argue that corporate management, undercapitalized franchisees—which skimped on investment—and lack of product innovation all played a part. But change is in the air. Burger King is overhauling its menu and slowly upgrading its stores. The company has even scrapped its 40-year-old “have it your way” slogan, launching a somewhat more new age-y tagline “be your way.”

Investors seem to like it. Shares of the company, which was bought by Brazil’s 3G capital in late 2010, taken private, and subsequently taken public again in 2012, are up more than 12% this year. That’s a lot more than both the S&P—up roughly 4%—and McDonald’s shares, which have risen about 5%.

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