By Mark Melin
One little discussed aspect of the deal involves a commonality for real estate exposure
As Bill Ackman revels in nearly a $161 million profit in his Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW) trade this morning, and the fast food company announces its taste to acquire Canada’s Tim Hortons Inc. (THI) donut chain, is the deal really a real estate play?
Burger King’s stock jumps on Tim Horton’s acquisition news
The stock of Burger King Worldwide Inc. oddly jumped on the news of the Tim Hortons Inc. acquisition – the purchaser in an acquisition deal jumps in price on a much less frequent basis than the stock being acquired. But nonetheless Tim Hortons was up nearly 20 percent in early morning trade while Burger King was up almost as much, near 17 percent.
This type of trade activity is somewhat unusual, but it could be speaking to a little discussed common aspect between Burger King and Hortons: they both own real estate.
Burger King and Tim Hortons, to a large degree, purchase the real estate as part of a franchise agreement and then rent it back to the restaurant owner. What this does from an investment standpoint is create a stable revenue flow highly attractive to investors. From one standpoint, the combined company will not be entirely exposed to its same store sales as franchisees who rent. Real estate ownership, as witnessed in the Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD) deal, can at one point be a major consideration in hedge fund ownership of retail brands. The real estate revenue flow both companies now own will occur independent to a degree from traditional store revenue metrics.
Ackman, for his part, is following an investment theme he has always been known to pursue: going after juicy real estate deals.
Tax inversion, the reason behind Burger King – Tim Hortons acquisition
The primary analysis of the logic behind the trade has been a potential tax inversion. Canada, where Tim Hortons is headquartered, is known as a corporate tax haven.
Whatever the reasons – perhaps a tax inversion bump combined with a strong real estate play – Burger King’s rise in the stock price makes Ackman’s stake in the company worth more than $1.2 billion, according to a Business Insider report.
Ackman has near an 11 percent stake in the stock, exposure he established in June 2012. Ackman took a company then managed by a private equity firm public – and its shares have soared as a result, up more than 71 percent since Ackman offered public stock in the fast food chain.
Ackman has rewarded Burger King Worldwide Inc. investors, and the Tim Hortons Inc. deal, which could create sales synergy for both franchises, might also be a very reliable real estate revenue play as well.