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Edited Transcript of SHAK earnings conference call or presentation 5-Aug-19 9:00pm GMT

Q2 2019 Shake Shack Inc Earnings Call

Aug 9, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Shake Shack Inc earnings conference call or presentation Monday, August 5, 2019 at 9:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Randall J. Garutti

Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director

* Tara M. Comonte

Shake Shack Inc. - CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Alexandra Gabriella Chan

Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Associate

* Alton Kemp Stump

Longbow Research LLC - Senior Research Analyst

* Andrew Michael Charles

Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director

* Christopher Thomas O'Cull

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst

* Jake Rowland Bartlett

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst

* Jeffrey Andrew Bernstein

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Equity Research Analyst

* John Stephenson Glass

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD

* John William Ivankoe

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Restaurant Analyst

* Katherine Irene Fogertey

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP & Derivatives Research Strategist

* Lauren Danielle Silberman

Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - Analyst

* Matthew James Curtis

William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division - Associate

* Melissa Eve Calandruccio

ICR, LLC - SVP

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good evening, and welcome to Shake Shack's Second Quarter 2019 Earnings Call. (Operator Instructions) It's now my pleasure to turn the floor over to Melissa Calandruccio, Investor Relations. You may begin.

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Melissa Eve Calandruccio, ICR, LLC - SVP [2]

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Thank you, James, and good evening, everyone. Joining me for Shake Shack's conference call is our CEO, Randy Garutti; and CFO, Tara Comonte.

During today's call, we will discuss non-GAAP financial measures which we believe can be useful in evaluating our performance. The presentation of this additional information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for results prepared in accordance with GAAP. Reconciliations to comparable GAAP measures are available in our earnings release and the appendix to our supplemental materials.

Some of today's statements may be forward-looking and actual results may differ materially due to a number of risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in the Risk Factors section of our annual report on Form 10-K filed February 25, 2019. Any forward-looking statements represent our views only as of today, and we assume no obligation to update any forward-looking statements if our views change.

By now, you should have access to our second quarter 2019 earnings release, which can be found at investor.shakeshack.com in the News section. Additionally, we had posted our second quarter 2019 supplemental earnings materials, which can be found in the Events and Presentation section on our site or as an exhibit to our 8-K for the quarter.

I will now turn the call over to Randy.

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [3]

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Thanks, Melissa, and good evening, everyone. Now more than halfway through 2019, I'm pleased to report that Shake Shack enjoyed continued strong momentum into the second quarter across all areas of the business. System-wide sales increased 33% to $225.9 million and total revenue grew by 31% to $152.7 million driven by the addition of 58 Shacks system-wide since the end of the second quarter 2018. Our comp base delivered positive same-Shack sales growth of 3.6%. Specifically, our digital channels, including delivery, were a key contributor to these results in conjunction with the benefit from the shifts in Easter timing within the second quarter.

We earned adjusted EBITDA of $25.9 million, growing at a rate of 18.5% and again delivered positive traffic in the quarter with growth of 1.3%. I'm so proud of the team leading our Shacks every day to achieve this level of growth while also opening a record number of Shacks and extending the power of the Shack brand around the globe is truly a testament to their talent and hard work.

During the quarter, we opened 11 domestic company-operated Shacks, continuing our strategy to deepen our roots in existing markets with openings in San Diego, Los Angeles and Dallas, while also expanding into new markets of Sarasota, Columbus and Virginia Beach. Subsequent to the quarter, we opened in New Orleans and Salt Lake City. We're thrilled to see the Shake Shack brand continuing to resonate so well across the country.

As of today, we've opened 21 company-operated Shacks so far this year and this development pace represents a much more balanced opening schedule than the compression we experienced late in the year in 2018. Given where we are today in terms of openings, we're taking the opportunity to tighten our new Shack guidance for 2019 to between 38 and 40 new company-operated Shacks from our previous guidance of between 36 and 40.

Moving on to licensing. It's been a tremendous year so far for our international business with a record number of new market openings and performance well above our expectations. We entered Mainland China with our opening in Shanghai in January, both the Philippines and Singapore in the second quarter and most recently, Mexico earlier in the third quarter. Having been on the ground for our recent openings in the Philippines and in Mexico City, it was as humbling as ever to watch the thousands of fans line up to greet us. Our Shack in Mexico City is a true community gathering place, an incredible central location in the city on Paseo de la Reforma Avenue adjacent to the famous Angel of Independence landmark.

As always, we strive to do what others are unwilling or unable to do. Ensuring local community is well-represented plays a key role in the Shack. We added exclusive Shack-specific menu items made with ingredients from local Mexican purveyors and in this case our delicious local Horchata Shake, a Mexican classic, features vanilla custard blended with rice and our signature spice blend topped with whipped cream and crushed obleas, a traditional Mexican snack. Our Shack Attack concrete incorporates chocolate chunks from local chocolate maker, La Rifa, whose chocolate uses local Mexican cocoa beans.

As part of our continued growth, we're also testing and expanding our Shack formats. In May, we opened our first ever 24-hour roadside Shack in the Monmouth Travel Plaza in the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. Whoever wrote the rule that stopping off the highway on your next road trip couldn't be a great experience? We're working to change the perceptions of captive audience dining, bringing fresh quality to everyday places that generate so much daily traffic. We continue with that approach. We believe we have significant whitespace in airports globally.

As of today, we're in 12 airports. Following opening so far this year in Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix Sky Harbor, we recently opened a second airport location in Kuwait International Airport. And later this year we'll be opening at McCarran in Las Vegas, Louis Armstrong in New Orleans and Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota. We're excited to continue to expand the ways in which we bring Shake Shack to hungry travelers in the U.S. and abroad.

Tonight, we're pleased to announce a new strategic partnership to take Shake Shack to Beijing. We've had an incredible start in Hong Kong over the past year. Between that and our first 6 months in Shanghai, it's reinforced our belief in the tremendous growth opportunity for the Shake Shack brand in Mainland China.

We've entered into a new development agreement with Maxim's Caterers, our partner in Hong Kong and Shanghai, to open 15 Shacks in the Beijing market over the next 10 years with the first Shack targeted for late 2020. With our global licensing team, some of whom are now based in the region, an increasingly well-established supply chain and key strategic partnerships firmly in place, we're bullish on the increasing contribution and importance of our international business over the coming years.

In China, we've chosen to focus on the major markets of Beijing and Shanghai at this point and not to develop further afield just yet. We really want to continue to execute well and learn in these huge markets while keeping a keen eye on the bigger opportunity we have in the rest of China over the long term.

Given the excellent progress we've made so far this year, we are raising our guidance for our license business and now expect to open between 18 and 20 net new license Shacks, up from our prior guidance of 16 to 18.

I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge what we've achieved on the development and licensing front, both domestically and internationally. Today, we are a global company of 245 Shacks in 16 countries, in 29 states and 128 cities. And yet, we are still at the beginning of our journey with plenty of runway and work still ahead.

Earlier this year, we shared with you our strategic pillars, which underpin the long-term growth and investment strategy across the company: Committing to excellence in our people; delivering a consistently great guest experience; cultivating a loyal and connected community; and innovating our business for long-term growth. And we've been busy executing these areas of strategic focus. And we're very pleased with the continued progress across each one.

Certainly a key milestone in our commitment to excellence in our people, we are thrilled to welcome Diane Neville, our new Senior Vice President of People Resources. Diane brings over 20 years of people resources experience from across the restaurant and other industries and has quickly become an influential member of Shake Shack's leadership team. We're passionate that our people are truly our greatest asset and we feel fortunate to have such a high caliber executive join the Shake Shack family to help continue to drive the development of and investment in our almost 7,500 strong workforce in the United States alone.

In our Innovation Kitchen, we continue to create new LTOs. This past quarter, we tested the Alabama ChickenShack, our take on the Southern classic as well as the crème brûlée shake served with caramelized sugar topping. We're excited to use this base to keep dreaming, taking feedback from our loyal fans as we continue to stay loyal to our culinary roots while experimenting with new menu items.

With continued growth and importance of our digital evolution, I'm pleased to share that we've chosen to formalize and launch a partnership today with Grubhub to deliver Shake Shack to hungry fans nationwide. During the deep learning of the pilot phase, we've benefited from taking our time to understand the needs of our guests, the important and necessary operational aspects of executing delivery well and the relative strengths of potential partners. We've learned a lot with each of the delivery providers with whom we piloted and we're excited to move forward on this important part of our overall digital ecosystem and guest offering. This partnership decision prioritizes the key factors of: Long-term revenue opportunity; technology integrations and functionality; guest services capability; geographic footprint; guest data insights; marketing capabilities; and of course, overall economics. As of today, a small number of our Shacks have Grubhub available to guests as we work through tech integrations and operational process on both sides. We anticipate gradual system-wide rollout over the next 2 to 3 quarters. As we move through that launch program and transition to our new partnership across the system, we do expect to see some volatility in our delivery sales in the remainder of the year and in certain parts of the country. Making Shake Shack more accessible is an important growth lever for us and this is something our digital channels allow us to do. So you'll see us continue to focus on enhancement of those experiences, integrating the necessary technology that supports each one and adding guest-facing functionality on a regular basis.

We're also committed to ensuring the experience in Shack remains as frictionless as possible, albeit understanding that these are busy restaurants and the addition of multiple ordering channels can sometimes create some level of confusion in the front of house. The proliferation of these additional ordering channels is a key consideration in our thinking for design in new Shacks and how we continue to evolve in existing Shacks. All this necessary physical and technological infrastructure will require continued investment in order to drive long-term sustainable growth. We'll keep you posted on our guidance as to those expectations over the long term.

Before I pass you on to Tara to take you through the financials and additional updates, I do want to take a moment and thank our incredible team. It's really been a strong quarter on all fronts, none of it would happen without the hard work, passion and commitment to excellence of each and every team member. When I look at everything we've accomplished so far and all we have ahead, I'm so proud and excited to be a part of this journey with this very special group of people.

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Tara M. Comonte, Shake Shack Inc. - CFO [4]

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Thanks, Randy. As you just heard, we're very pleased with our continued strong sales performance across the business during the second quarter. Total revenue increased 31% to $152.7 million with Shack sales of $147.9 million, also representing growth of 31%, and license revenue of $4.8 million, growth of 43% on the same quarter last year.

We delivered positive same-Shack sales of 3.6%, which consisted of a 2.3% increase in price and mix, a traffic increase of 1.3%. And this performance was on top of a 1.1% same-Shack sales growth in the second quarter last year. This was driven by continued strength and momentum across all our digital channel, combined with the favorable impact from the timing of Easter which fell later in the second quarter this year.

Our average unit volume remain strong at 4.3 million on a trailing 12-month basis with average weekly sales of $85,000 during the quarter. As a reminder, these particular average unit metrics will continue to gradually come down before leveling off as we broaden our sales volumes, open new Shacks across the country and further expand in existing markets, all while continuing to deliver significant total top and bottom line growth.

At this point in the year, given our performance to date, we're expecting company-operated AUV to be at the higher end of our previous guidance range of 4 million and 4.1 million for the full year. As Randy mentioned, we'll be transitioning our company-operated Shacks to our integrated delivery partnership with Grubhub over the next 2 to 3 quarters. And as we work through that period, we expect the degree of volatility across the system in our delivery and overall sales, which is reflected in our updated guidance for the year. Additionally, our year-on-year sales comparisons get tougher in the fourth quarter as we lap strong digital channel performance, in particular, delivery and a positive impact from weather during the busy holiday period. Taken together and based on second quarter results, we are however increasing our same-Shack sales guidance for the year to the higher end of the previous 1% to 2% range and expect to perform at approximately the 2% level.

Furthermore, as evidenced in our second quarter results, our license business continues to perform extremely well with some strong new market launches. And as Randy mentioned, we're raising our unit guidance at this time from between 16 and 18 to 18 and 20 net new license openings for the year. We're also raising our license revenue guidance to between $16 million and $17 million for the year, an increase from our prior guidance of $15 million and $16 million.

One important side note, while we're extremely pleased with performance in this part of our business, we do fully expect to see the impact of some more acute honeymoon decreases in a number of these Shacks in 2020 as they settle into a more normalized level of sales from these initial year 1 performance levels. In particular, we expect to see an overweight performance of large new markets this year including Shanghai, Singapore, the Philippines and Mexico that we expect to come down in the next year.

Taking each of these factors in totality, we are at this point raising our 2019 guidance for total revenue to between $585 million and $590 million, up from our prior guidance of $576 million to $582 million. We've seen some really strong openings over the past year including many of our Shacks that opened in the back half of 2018. Our Shacks often outperform pro forma estimates in their first year, opening with very high initial sales volumes. Depending on the class of specific Shacks, we then experience a leveling off as they reach more settled and normalized sales levels. As we look towards the back half of this year, we'll be lapping many of our 2018 first-to-market openings which may have a greater impact exiting their honeymoon period than is typically experienced.

Moving to Shack-level profitability. We saw some significant headwinds in the first quarter from both the launch of Chick'n Bites, which had a meaningful impact on our food and paper costs as well as higher levels of staffing in Shacks that opened at the end of 2018 which negatively impacted the labor line. We're pleased to report improvements in both and sequential improvement in our Shack-level operating profit in the second quarter, which increased 13.7% on the prior year, just $36.2 million with Shack-level operating profit margin of 24.4%.

As a reminder, particularly when comparing Shack-level operating margins to the same quarter last year, we're lapping 2 benefits in the second quarter of 2018 which we identified and called out at the time. Specifically, a 30 basis point benefit to food and paper costs related to sponsorship funds for our biennial company retreat as well as a 70 basis point noncash deferred rent adjustments to our occupancy line. Together, these represented a benefit of 100 basis points to our Shack-level operating margin in the second quarter last year.

In order to appropriately compare year-on-year performance, it's also important to consider the impact of the new lease accounting standard we implemented in January which has changed the way we account for real estate and capital leases, moving cost into the occupancy line that previously sat within the depreciation and interest lines primarily. A further explanation of the impact of the new lease accounting standards has been included in our last 2 quarters' supplemental decks and we've included this again this quarter for reference.

Getting back to some further details around the underlying operational performance of our second quarter. Food and paper costs in the quarter were 29% as a percentage of Shacks sales, an increase of 90 basis points on prior year or an adjusted 60 basis points when taking into consideration the benefits I just mentioned in 2018. This represents a 50 basis point sequential improvement from Q1.

During the quarter, we continue to experience an increase in food costs driven primarily by Chick'n Bites, albeit less of a material impact than the prior quarter with increased pricing as well as improved supply chain initiatives which came into effect gradually throughout the quarter. We remain pleased with the guest uptake and feedback on Chick'n Bites since our nationwide rollout at the beginning of the year. Although like all LTOs, we'll listen, learn and assess how long it stays on the menu as time goes on.

Although we've seen margin improvement from last quarter, chicken is a high-cost item in our basket, particularly the premium quality, fresh, antibiotic-free, whole breast meat that we source. In addition to impact of Chick'n Bites, our overall basket saw slight inflation across both beef and dairy during the quarter. The second half of this year should see continued improvement in the overall cost profile of Chick'n Bites as the supply chain improvements take effect across the entire system. And as always, our overall COGS line will continue to be affected to the extent beef prices move, albeit we're not expecting material changes there for the remainder of the year.

We also saw a continuation of recent trends in the quarter with increases in paper costs as a direct result of our off-premise digital growth which requires more packaging than in-Shack orders. Packaging is an area we've been testing and updating as our digital channels continue to grow and is something we believe remains an opportunity for continued improvement in the future.

Labor and related expenses increased 90 basis points to 27.2% of Shack sales as we continue to experience significant labor inflation across the country especially in our hometown of New York City, where 2019 has seen double-digit increases in both hourly and salaried wages combined with the administrative burden and cost of legislation such as the Fair Workweek.

Additionally, we continue to experience higher staffing levels in our newer Shacks as they transition through their initial opening, training and settling-in phases. This improved sequentially from the first quarter, particularly in those Shacks which opened at the end of 2018. And we expect to see this trend continue over the course of the year, albeit likely offset by the new Shack openings still to come.

Other operating expenses increased 40 basis points to 11.3% of Shacks sales, driven predominantly by delivery commissions and increased levels of marketing activity both local and nationwide. We're pleased with the performance and results of our ongoing marketing activities as our new CMO and CIO continue to really get into the business. We're looking forward to continuing to invest in sales driving and positive ROI initiatives into next year.

Occupancy and related expenses increased 140 basis points to 8% of Shack sales or approximately 70 basis points when adjusting for the 70 basis point noncash deferred rent adjustments I mentioned earlier. Beyond this, the increase on prior year on occupancy was driven primarily by the adoption of the new lease accounting standard that went into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year. These increases were then in part offset by sales leverage in the quarter. Consistent with guidance from last quarter, given these results from the first half of the year and our outlook for the remainder, we continue to expect Shack-level operating profit margin for the full year to be at the lower end of our previously guided range at approximately 23%.

Moving on to G&A. G&A for the second quarter was $15.4 million and included $2.1 million related to noncash equity compensation as well as approximately $500,000 related to our ERP system upgrade, Project Concrete, and some other onetime costs.

Project Concrete also represented an additional $2.3 million in capital spend in the quarter. This project has been progressing well with core finance and people resources systems now live across the company as of the end of June. Work continues on this important companywide project over the remainder of the year and into next, with the most significant next phase being centered around our invoice supplier and inventory management platforms particularly within the Shacks.

Based on our most recent time line for the various components of this broad implementation, we expect operating expense hitting G&A for Project Concrete to be between $3 million and $3.5 million and capital spend to be between $4.5 million to $5 million for the full year with continued investment into 2020 as we add modules and broaden the scope of this important infrastructure upgrade. This project is critical to our continued and future scale, building our business efficiently and for the long term. I want to thank all of our team involved in this transformational project who've gone above and beyond over many months and who set us up for such a successful implementation and rollout.

Outside of Project Concrete, we're tracking to our previous expectations and guidance in core G&A with expenses gradually increasing as the year progresses to support our strong growth. At this point, we expect our core G&A spend for the full year to be between $56 million and $57 million and equity-based compensation of between $7.4 million and $7.7 million, both consistent with prior guidance.

Taken together with our latest expectation of Project Concrete spend, this may potentially result in year-on-year leverage in our total G&A line. However, it's important to note that we are still very much in the investment stage of our long-term growth journey. We'll assess opportunities for accelerated investment spend as the remainder of the year progresses but generally plan to reinvest beats in performance back into the business where we see compelling long-term returns and particularly in those areas we believe will have a direct and positive impact to Shack-level profitability. Suffice to say that strong sales delivering G&A leverage in 2019 is not a trend we necessarily expect to mirror in 2020, particularly while we're so early in our expansion plans and see so many opportunities for strategic reinvestments ahead.

We continue to record significant increases in our depreciation expense as a result of our ongoing expansion and increasing pace of new Shacks openings. Depreciation increased 41% in the quarter to $9.8 million, driven primarily by the addition of those 14 new Shacks. We continue to expect depreciation to be between $41 million and $42 million for the full year.

Preopening expenses in the quarter were $3.5 million. The year-on-year -- the year-over-year increase was driven by 11 new Shack openings during the second quarter compared to only 5 in the same period last year. For the full year, we continue to expect preopening costs to be between $13 million and $14 million with our biggest class of Shack openings to date in 2019.

Interest expense declined by approximately $500,000 year-on-year to $97,000 driven entirely by the change in accounting treatment related to build-to-suite leases, which have previously been accounted for in this line and are now being recorded within occupancy. For the full year, we continue to expect interest expense to be between $300,000 and $400,000.

Adjusted EBITDA in the second quarter increased 18.5% from the same quarter in the prior year to $25.9 million and adjusted EBITDA margin in the quarter was 17%. On an adjusted pro forma basis, we earned $10.2 million or $0.27 per fully exchanged and diluted share. Our pro forma effective tax rate was 19.3% on an adjusted pro forma basis. And our underlying effective rate was 26.8%, which excludes the net effect of excess tax benefits from stock-based compensation. A reconciliation of these tax rates can be found in the appendix of the supplemental materials. And as a reminder, our tax guidance excludes any potential impact from such excess benefits given the unpredictability of the timing of exercise activity. And on that basis, we continue to expect a range of 26.5% to 27.5% for our pro forma effective tax rate for the full year.

As a rapidly scaling company with significant runway of continued growth ahead, we took the opportunity to further strengthen our balance sheet in the quarter with the completion of a new revolving credit facility agreement. We increased both the size of the facility and the level of flexibilities throughout the agreement, including the ability to raise additional debt capital and make strategic investments or acquisitions should we decide to in the future. While we have no plans to draw on the facility in the near term, this expanded credit line gives us additional financial flexibility should we wish to use it and better suits the company at this stage in our overall growth journey. The facility is for a term of 5 years for up to $50 million available immediately and an incremental commitment of up to $100 million available upon our request and subject to certain conditions. We're pleased to have significantly improved the terms within this facility in order to ensure we have the flexibility and optionality for crucial investment should they be compelling in the future.

Overall, we have very solid momentum across the business heading into the second half of the year as we continue to execute against our key strategic initiatives. Our focus is anchored on domestic and international expansion while investing in our teams and infrastructure to enable us to grow and scale for the long term. We'll continue to test, learn and evolve our business to adapt to the changing environment in which we operate, all while investing in critical initiatives where we see compelling, long-term return for the company and all our stakeholders.

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [5]

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I'll close the call today with a celebratory note. This summer we reached a milestone, our 15th birthday at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, the little hotdog cart that began it all. And today, we are as focused on the opportunity ahead as we have ever been on building a truly great company to last.

Once again, a sincere thanks to our hard-working and dedicated leaders and team members who make it all possible day in and day out. With that, we'll go ahead and open the call for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question is coming from Katie Fogertey with Goldman Sachs.

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Katherine Irene Fogertey, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP & Derivatives Research Strategist [2]

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So you guys last provided us with some more granular color on store margins by region at ICR and I think that was mark-to-market for a 3Q '18. There's been some volatility in the margin line since then, delivery kicked in. It was really nice to see those margins rebound this quarter. But it will be really helpful for us if you could either quantify or give us a way to contextualize how this improvement is playing out by region, in particular we're really focused on non-New York stores rolling into the comp base. So it'd be helpful to see or understand what the incremental traffic you're seeing from delivery looks like by region, how operating margin trends have been by region. Any color there will be helpful.

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [3]

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Thanks, Katie, and congrats on launching your recent coverage for the industry. Those are numbers we're not going to break out today, appreciate that you asked. I think we'll look at that possibly in the third quarter. We've done that the last 2 years. We'll take a look at that information. To the extent it's helpful to you and our shareholders, we'll certainly consider that.

Look, I think it's important that everyone know we continue to grow across the country. I noted that in the development remarks. If you really look at it, we've seen broad-based success in so many markets and that continues today. If you really look at it, we only have 22 Shacks in New York City. So I think now with 140 Shacks company-operated in this country, only 22 of those are in New York City. I think the question of how this restaurant company does outside of New York has been answered and will continue to be answered as we go.

So bear with us when we can give you data especially as it pertains to the digital ecosystem that you asked a lot about. That will be an evolving thing in the next 2 -- we've just been piloting for a couple of years here, delivery with Grub, we expect to be everywhere nationally. And we will keep a close eye on that and share those trends when we think it's helpful to you.

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Operator [4]

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Next, we'll hear from Lauren Silberman with Crédit Suisse.

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Lauren Danielle Silberman, Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division - Analyst [5]

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How are you thinking about modifying the layouts of both new and existing Shacks as digital becomes a bigger part of the business? I think you've mentioned in the past the testing of pickup shelves. Are there any changes being implemented or necessary in the back of the house?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [6]

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Yes. Thanks, Lauren. We've been doing a lot with the kind of constant iteration, if you look at Shack designs over this last few years. Let's start on the back of house. I think in the back of house, we build what we call split kitchens which continue to evolve, really giving us the horsepower to compete anywhere at maximum throughput. We still have a lot of technology that we need to evolve on that. Part of our decision to go with Grub is the way that we're going to integrate that technology and make sure that we can really start to have a more dynamic ordering capability for the percentage of our sales that is delivery.

So we believe for the most part, we've made some better designs than others. But for the most part, the back-house kitchen can handle a lot. However, it gets more complicated now as the delivery digital app, web ordering, large orders come in. So a couple things we're doing in the front of house to help that which is challenging, by the way. We've noted this on a few calls. It remains challenging. If you go to a Shack in the busy times, that pickup area is busy. It is really busy there. There are couriers. There are app pickup. There are folks, who just want to stay and get their Shack Burger. There's family, there's everybody competing for a limited space.

So we're working to make sure we have some really good pickup areas for some good shelving that will help make the courier's job a little easier and make our app pickups a little bit easier. We're designing some restaurants that will really truly separate those areas. So next year, you'll see some Shack designs that will really have a completely separate section for the digital pickup from the in-house pickup because we really want to honor our guests who continue to come to Shake Shack. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of our guests remain people, who are looking for that great Shack community gathering experience, and we want them to have a great experience.

So stay tuned, lots of different iterations. We're going to be testing a number of different ways to do it, all towards really making sure that a digitally native restaurant can be successful while providing a great guest experience across any channel you choose.

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Operator [7]

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Next, we will hear from Sharon Zackfia with William Blair.

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Matthew James Curtis, William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division - Associate [8]

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It's Matt on for Sharon. Could you talk a little bit more about the integrated marketing plans for Grubhub? I mean how much customer data is Shake Shack going to get? And then secondarily, can loyalty be used in conjunction with the Grubhub partnership?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [9]

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Okay. So starting off, we will not have any Shake Shack loyalty program and we won't be connected to anything that Grub does other than people who have -- they just launched their new loyalty plan, so we've got a lot to learn about how that will work for their marketplace.

But in terms of data and the tech integrations, there's a few important things. We've been able to work with Grub in a significant design that will have optionality for us for kind of just-in-time delivery as well as really try to pair up that real delivery courier with real time how busy we are at Shake Shack in the moment. That tech integration is going to be crucial for us, right? We have really busy restaurants. We need to be able to have the ability to throttle that in real time and make sure that, that works across their drivers and our team.

When it comes to data, we're really excited about the data that we intend to retain and access throughout their marketplace for our guests. We -- that was one of the most important considerations in this decision, was for us to be able to have that data and be able to connect with our guests regardless if they choose to order on a third-party platform. That's one of the things we're really excited about. So over time, we expect to do some really great marketing, both Shake Shack direct and together with our partnership with Grub.

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Operator [10]

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The next question come from Jake Bartlett with SunTrust.

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Jake Rowland Bartlett, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [11]

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Randy, I want to start with just understanding better the transition period as you shift over to Grubhub from the kind of the handful of stores now to the system over the next couple of quarters. Were you saying that -- you mentioned that could cause volatility. Does that mean -- I mean what are the -- what kind of delivery are you going to be doing with the other partners that you had been testing with? Trying to understand how big may be a headwind this could be in the near term.

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [12]

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Yes. Jake, it's a great question, so thank you for asking it. It's built into our guidance on revenue, comp and everything. So here's the reality, we've spent 2 years building up relationships on other marketplaces, one of which was Grubhub. But we have great relationships on Caviar and Postmates and DoorDash. Those relationships continue in the near term exactly as they've been and where they've been. However, as we roll this out and we reach mass scale with Grubhub, we will eventually unintegrate and not market -- and we haven't done a lot of marketing with those in the past anyway, but really it's about on integrating the tech. So there could be some volatility there, right?

If you are on another third-party marketplace and you're used to looking at that and deciding, hey, maybe I'll get Shake Shack tonight, which has been a part of our sales, it's something we're going to have a big marketing job to move those guests over to our partnership with Grub, which we're excited to do. But it could take some time, right? You've got 2 years of behavior in various marketplaces and they all have slightly different digital strengths, right? There are players -- and by the way, this is one of the biggest decisions we had to make in this. Each one of them, they're great companies. Every one of them are great companies and each one of them has a certain region, sometimes a certain Shack within that region that has strength or weakness. And they have varying success rates when it comes to the guest experience. For us, we put all that together. And we believe, over the next series of time, that we will be able to do the best job at guest experience possible by working with Grub in all that way. But it very well may be that some of those marketplaces continue to sell Shake Shack on an unintegrated basis.

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Jake Rowland Bartlett, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [13]

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Got it, got it. And when I think about your...

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [14]

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As they did in the past.

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Jake Rowland Bartlett, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [15]

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Got it. And then when I think about your same-store sales guidance, it implies a pretty sharp deceleration from what you did in the first and second quarter. And as I look at just from the surface, it doesn't look -- it looks like your compares actually get easier just on a half-year basis. So would you point to this kind of potential volatility around delivery as the main reason why you'd be more a little more conservative in the back half of the year?

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Tara M. Comonte, Shake Shack Inc. - CFO [16]

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Well -- hey, Jake, how are you? I mean we called this out in the prepared remarks and you may remember this in Q1 too but we did have -- we benefited within that comp base from some warmer weather, particularly in the Northeast in the beginning of the year which went into that Q1 comp. We benefited, and Randy mentioned it in his prepared remarks, just now from that shift in Easter with more of those Easter holiday weeks really falling into the quarter this year than last.

So those are -- whilst we're really happy with the COGS in the first half, these 2 things were contributors. We're coming into some pretty active delivery and some digital activation in the back half of last year particularly Q4. So we're comping over that. And then as Randy just explained, the majority of our Shacks have had delivery turned on for many quarters now across many marketplaces. So as Grub gets rolled out and all these marketplaces look slightly different in many different ways where there's regional footprint or various other factors, there just potentially will be some noise as we go through that transition, particularly as we start unintegrating those others who we've been in pilot with. So I think we'll see how it shakes out over the next couple of quarters. This isn't an overnight rollout, so we'll have the benefit of being able to keep you guys up to date as we get further into it.

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Operator [17]

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Chris O'Cull with Stifel has our next question.

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Christopher Thomas O'Cull, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD & Senior Analyst [18]

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Randy, could you tell us what kind of information you're looking or you're needing to determine whether the Chick'n Bites could be a permanent menu item, and then maybe just how much should we expect the product cost for that item to improve if you guys were able to commit to a supplier that it could become a permanent menu item?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [19]

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Yes. So what are we looking for? This has gone for basically half the year. With any LTO, we're looking for a few things, how does it perform sales-wise, of course. It's very hard always to understand incrementality, true incrementality, which is one of the things that just takes time especially in a totally new category like this. And impact for trades up, trade down and, in this case, maybe an add-on. We're also looking to continue to improve the way that we operate it. The way we do this, every single Chick'n Bite is done by hand, to order, right? This takes time. It's operationally challenging. It takes labor. And these are things that we want to continue to improve upon and the way we do it.

And we really just want to listen and learn. We have been really encouraged by what we've seen, which is why it's continued to stay on and why we're going to continue to give it more time. When it comes to the supply chain and the cost, we've done a lot of work in the first half of the year, still impacted us in Q2. It's still, as Tara mentioned, a high-cost menu item.

A chicken that is all antibiotic-free and all-natural and fresh in the way that we do it is not cheap. It's not a commodity product, and it's something that we spend a lot of money on. So it's still got a higher food cost. There's some work we want to do. And kind of exactly how you just said, we're connecting with our chicken suppliers and saying, "hey, can we do a little bit better here if we're going to continue to run this?" Chicken, as a category, go back just a few short years. We never had chicken before. Now with the ChickenShack, with Chick'n Bites, chicken is a category at Shake Shack. That's a real thing. We're going to compete in the chicken business and we feel really good about that, but again super early. It's something we've got to see people continue to come back for and again encouraged by the early signs.

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Operator [20]

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We'll hear from John Glass of Morgan Stanley.

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John Stephenson Glass, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [21]

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A couple, first on the Grub announcement. Did you actually see higher sales volumes from delivery on Grub versus other platforms? Or was this decision made on the other factors primarily that you mentioned? Secondly, are you going to launch in-app delivery with this? Is that part of this integrated approach? Or does that come later? And do you have information about the customers? Do you know who they are? Who are using other platforms? Did you communicate with them directly and say, come and get us on Grub now? Or is that not -- was that not possible?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [22]

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That really wasn't part of the deal. I mean in fairness to the marketplaces that did the work with us the last couple years, it's really their customer. John, it was a combination of factors and Grub had tremendous performance in our pilots. They had a shorter pilot time frame than the others. But in that, we are really encouraged by what we saw and we looked at it by a few things. Big picture, nationwide, who's got the best long-term revenue opportunity? That was number 1. Preceding even that I guess is who's got the opportunity to do the best job at the guest experience. Delivery is a hard business. Shake Shack's food is hard to deliver and we need to do it really, really well.

So we even had just a limited amount of markets during the Grub test. So it gave us a lot of encouragement for what they can possibly do. The guest data and insights is a huge thing moving forward. So that's going to be new opportunity for us. And then really, the overall economics of the deal will lead to better economics for us over the long term, which is everyone is battling right now in this part of the business. You need to have something that works for everybody, and we believe we've got that. It's something we're going to do, do well.

As far as delivery through our app, we absolutely want to do that over the long term. It's not our first focus right now. We're doing some other great things with our app that continues to drive engagement and our new web platform. So we're doing a lot on our own channels. But over time, we do expect over the long term to be able to deliver through our app with Grub. That's going to take some time.

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John Stephenson Glass, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [23]

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And then Tara, you mentioned that you might spend some of the overage in G&A in particularly in projects that might assist store level margins, if that's correct or make sure that is correct. And then what do you have in mind specifically? Are there technology investments that you think you can make near term over the next 6 months that improve things? Or are you just saying that hypothetically you don't want to leverage G&A because there are so many opportunities longer term? Or was there something specific in mind?

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Tara M. Comonte, Shake Shack Inc. - CFO [24]

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I think it's a bit of both, John. I mean I think the 1/3 of the way through our $450 million, we continue to be very committed to reinvesting back in the business as a philosophy just being as young as we are with the growth that we have ahead. So I think there is a general appetite to do that and we continue to gain conviction and confidence in that with some of the returns that we're seeing in the projects that we have invested in to date.

And I think there are always a multitude of areas that you can invest in. So we're looking at all sorts of things. I would say that it's hard to actually find an investment today that isn't underpinned with technology. So you should assume that the majority of them will have some sort of technological component. Pretty much everything we've done so far this year does, whether it's the back-of-house concrete-type work or some more guest-facing in our digital channels.

So I wouldn't call out anything specific right now, but expect to see us continue to try to take administrative burden out of the Shack so that we can, in a high-cost labor environment, have that labor really focused on guest experience. Concrete was a piece of that, but there are various other labor initiatives that we're beginning to look at: scheduling, we've mentioned in the past; looking at optimizing our scheduling processes; putting better tools in-house to help our operators schedule on a more precise basis. So I think there's a lot in the pipeline and we're pleased to be able to have the opportunity to continue to just redeploy resources back at the business where it makes sense. Right now that's obviously not really contemplated in the guidance that we gave you. So as we have firmer plans to do so we'll obviously update that guidance and keep you guys updated.

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Operator [25]

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Our next question will come from Jeffrey Bernstein with Barclays.

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Jeffrey Andrew Bernstein, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Equity Research Analyst [26]

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Two questions. One, just on the restaurant margin. Tara, I think you mentioned ex unusuals, the headwind was maybe 280 basis points. But at the same time in the qualitative commentary it does sound like maybe there's some signs of easing pressure whether it's on food or elsewhere. And obviously your comps have been stronger than you might have expected. So I'm just wondering -- still seeing a significant deleverage despite that outsized comp. I'm wondering maybe how you think about potential for where that would stabilize over the next number of quarters, whether there's any option for incremental pricing to help on that front and if you could at least quantify what the cause in labor basket is for the year for the back half however you think about it. And then I have 1 follow-up.

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Tara M. Comonte, Shake Shack Inc. - CFO [27]

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Yes. There was a lot in there. So the COGS and -- our COGS and labor assumptions for the back half are included within our guidance that we gave you, so reinforcing that lower end of the 23%, 24% range that we gave you last quarter at about the 23%. I mean big picture in COGS and we touched on some of this, we will continue to see Chick'n Bites impact that COGS line. But also as these digital channels continue to grow and we really like their growth, paper and packaging will continue to go up in that line. Beef and dairy are commodities that moved a little bit. As we said in the prepared remarks, we don't expect anything material in the back half but we might continue to see a little bit of inflation there continue.

Labor, we just -- it is still really meaningful inflation across the country in the labor line, double digits in New York City, really mid to high single-digit inflation across the country in the labor line. And that's why I think we are so committed to reinvesting back in the business so that we're not just a recipient of these things and that we're constantly looking at ways in which we can tackle it whilst not damaging the wonderful experience that is Shake Shack.

So yes, there's pressure on the line. There will continue to be pressure on the line just as we open lower volume Shacks. I think from the time of the IPO, we talked about sort of $3 million future state or current state in certain Shacks' AUV with more of a kind of 18 to 22, around the 20% slot. So as we continue to add more of those to the system, we're adding a lot of those to the system, that line will come down.

Price is obviously an opportunity for us. We tend to be very conservative on price, and we're asked about this a lot. We took about 1.5 points in December and we took a similar amount, maybe slightly higher, the year before but still sub-2. We'll probably do the same thing this year. We're working through all of that right now. And it certainly is something that as we continue to expand our digital channels, we will consider more seriously. I think we obviously have the opportunity to price differently across channels. We don't currently do that today. That may be one way to help us mitigate the costs of delivery.

So it's something we look at very seriously but it's also something that I think you should expect to see us be cautious on. But it certainly is a lever that if we have to use it, we will do so extremely thoughtfully. We prefer to stay cautious on that line.

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Jeffrey Andrew Bernstein, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Equity Research Analyst [28]

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Got you. And then Randy, I think in your prepared remarks you talked about just digital channels broadly being a key contributor to the comps and you don't necessarily want to break out all the components of that. But can you maybe directionally prioritize between the app, the kiosks, pickup and delivery, I guess, the big ones, like, what you see is the prioritizing the strongest to the -- the biggest to the smallest?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [29]

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Well, we haven't broken it out yet, Jeff, and don't intend to today. Just to separate a couple of things, kiosks, we kind of separate that when we talk about our digital sales. Of course it is digital but we kind of treat that guest like an in-house guest. They just happen to order differently, not at a cashier. On the other ones, they're all growing. The app, web and delivery are significant. So we're not going to break it out just yet. There's a lot of movement in there. It's got to settle and it's something that we're just going to take some time and continue to learn about. But we're excited about all those channels and investing in all of them.

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Operator [30]

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(Operator Instructions) Our next question will come from Andrew Charles with Cowen and Company.

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Andrew Michael Charles, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [31]

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Congrats on solidifying the Grubhub partnership. Onto your basis, it looks like the traffic accelerated 130 basis points in the quarter while check deteriorated about 190 basis points. You guys spoke about the success of digital during the quarter but you previously called out that digital is a higher check sales channel. Can you talk to the dynamics behind the check, traffic changes from 1Q to 2Q?

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Tara M. Comonte, Shake Shack Inc. - CFO [32]

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Yes. I mean we had positive traffic in the quarter of 1.3 and price mix of 2.3 to get to a 3.6 comp, so both positive and we're very pleased with the continued positive traffic.

Yes. Price/mix is -- we don't split it out any further, but you know directionally what we've taken on price. That's now lapping on itself when it comes to depending on which period you're comparing it to, so particularly with that, the impact of digital. And we do, we continue to see higher average check in those digital channels. So with the growth of digital that will continue to impact that. But I would say we're now lapping growth of digital and delivery, on growth of digital and delivery which is positive what you're looking at.

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Andrew Michael Charles, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [33]

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And, Tara, just a longer-term question, at the time of the IPO you referenced that long-term restaurant margin guidance was set at 18% to 22% which 4.5 years ago was obviously before third-party delivery was a factor. It was before talking to $15 minimum wages throughout most -- throughout much of the country. With 2019 margin guidance for approximately 23% getting close to the high end of the long-term margin, can you talk about the offset to help preserve and grow margins over time as long-term guidance for low single-digit same-store sales growth is enough to help -- theoretically is enough to help lever the margins?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [34]

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Andrew, it's a great point, and Tara and I may both answer this. I'll just give you the historical perspective as I was here at the IPO and long before. That's definitely a number that we targeted at that time. It remains a number we believe we can hit over the course of new Shacks as they come into the system. We absolutely believe it and we've seen it in many places.

But there are new pressures, right? Labor continues to be a pressure and no sign of that letting up. But we do believe obviously delivery and some of the digital world will be a pressure. But I think we've got some really good things in place for the long term. We've got work to do to make sure that our labor over the long term can settle. Our COGS over the long term can settle and we do believe we also have strong price power over the very long term which will factor into both of those.

But there's a couple of things you've got to remember about Shake Shack. It's really important to say these things. We have 140 restaurants. We are in 28 states, okay? When we opened 1 restaurant on Saturday, we opened in Utah, okay, that Shake Shack is out there by itself. That's really hard to run that restaurant. Now it's going to be crazy sales and there was about 1,000 people online on Saturday and a whole heck of a lot of excitement. And that's great. But someday, when we have lots of restaurants in Salt Lake City, a lot of things get better. And that's part of what we need to look at. There's distribution that, over the long term, will help food costs. We have more than 20 different distribution centers around this country.

Next year, we intend to open up no new ones. So what does that mean? It means that the trucks that we have in those [position] get fuller and fuller as we go deeper. And that's why we talked about this strategy of going deeper in current markets. So we've got some of that, just scale in general. Learning, we've got to learn how to run Shacks in all these different parts of the country. We've gone pretty far, pretty fast and now we're deepening that learning. So look, it's kind of -- I think it's a tick on each part of the P&L over time, near term pressure, but eventually that levels off and it levels off in a pretty darn good company.

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Operator [35]

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We'll now hear from Alton Stump with Longbow Research.

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Alton Kemp Stump, Longbow Research LLC - Senior Research Analyst [36]

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Congrats on the quarter, strong all around, so congrats on that. Just wanted to ask, there certainly has been a fair amount of conversation in the industry about, whether it's DoorDash or other third-party guys and how the margins will sound, looks when it goes through them versus either on your own site and or inside your store. Not getting into specifics but is there any color on if it's at all dilutive from a margin perspective if a customer does go to a DoorDash as opposed to your site directly?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [37]

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So yes, you came in and out there a bit, Alton, so I just want to make sure I got the question right. Really, it's a question of is delivery a more expensive channel than somebody walking into Shake Shack or going on to our site? Is that kind of the question?

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Alton Kemp Stump, Longbow Research LLC - Senior Research Analyst [38]

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Yes, thank you, Randy. Yes, that's it.

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [39]

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Yes. So the answer is yes. Delivery is more expensive, right? We have a commission in those businesses that we do not have on our own site. If you come into a Shack, we also have less paper, right? So there is significant cost to that. So yes, we've added a channel that is a more expensive channel over time. But eventually, hopefully, we can deliver on our own app, as I mentioned a little bit earlier. But in general, look, we just want to find a balance of all the things that will drive long-term sales growth for this company and delivery is one of them, sometimes those come at a cost. Part of why we chose Grub in this new partnership will be to lessen that cost over the long term, and we thought we're in a good place on that to help out as we look to the future.

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Operator [40]

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Our final question will come from John Ivankoe with JPMorgan.

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John William Ivankoe, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Restaurant Analyst [41]

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I was looking for a little bit of maybe color on the composition of the comp and specifically, traffic. And I ask this, just because your comp base digital is still so small and it's getting increasingly diverse, if there's any characteristics by store year, by geography, by time of the day. And by time of the day I mean whether off-peak or peak, where you're specifically seeing strength and if you see any areas that you could see for particular improvement over time?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [42]

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Yes. No, honestly, John, there are -- there's this 74 Shacks in the base today. There's going to be 84 by the end of the year. A significant portion of that remains in the Northeast, right, as we've talked about both in New York and the Northeast in general. So it's still a small base, it's still fairly volatile. It happens to be up right now. A lot of that has been digital. As we've said, a lot has been strength to some of the callouts that Tara made earlier. So we haven't broken it out or shared why. I think when you look at what's the upside, I think it's just maturing in certain markets. There's -- we've talked to over time at what happens to a Shack when we open a number of Shacks around it. You have your ups and downs there. But over time, we really feel like those things settle out and continue to grow again. A lot of what we have is very mixed. There are some Shacks that are up, some that are down when they enter the base. All told, it's making for a really great story right now and some strong traffic.

So not ready to break any of that out just yet but just to say it all -- there's a lot of strong momentum in the company right now, in the comp base, in our sophomore Shacks and in our freshman first year Shacks, too.

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Operator [43]

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And we do have a question from Andy Barish with Jefferies.

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Alexandra Gabriella Chan, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Associate [44]

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This is Alex on for Andy. Just wanted to follow-up on Alton's question. Assuming that Grub helps to continue to grow the mix of delivery, [one can solve] that nationally, can we expect the headwinds then from delivery commissions to alleviate on margins given the structure that you put place with them?

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [45]

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Yes. Given the long-term agreement we have with them, that's a structure we do believe that will be helpful to our OpEx line over the long term. Now it remains a question mark on how much that continues to grow and that will play into the factor of how much of total sales become delivery. But in general, we expect to do better on that line once fully rolled out than we have over this last couple of years.

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Operator [46]

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That will concludes today's question-and-answer session. I will now turn the conference over to Randy Garutti, CEO, for any additional or closing remarks.

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Randall J. Garutti, Shake Shack Inc. - CEO & Director [47]

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I just want to thank everybody for coming on to the call tonight. It's been a busy day I'm sure for all of you in the market, so we appreciate you taking some time to be with us at Shake Shack. Thanks again, and we'll talk to you soon. Take care.

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Operator [48]

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This does conclude today's conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.