Investors are chowing down on shares of newly minted publicly traded hot dog chain Portillo’s.
Shares of Portillo’s (PTLO) — a Chicago-founded outfit with a cult-like following across nine states — exploded more than 50% as investors ate up the stock on its first day of trading on Thursday.
“While we are a 58-year-old company, we are still infants when it comes to our growth inflection point,” Portillo’s CEO Michael Osanloo said on Yahoo Finance Live.
Osanloo isn’t kidding when he said Portillo’s is in its early days despite being around for more than five decades. The company only has 67 restaurants in operation, boasting an eclectic design from different eras (think 70s disco themed in some cases). Portillo’s has only opened 10 new restaurants since 2018, according to its prospectus. To its credit, the company has never closed a restaurant since it opened for business.
Meanwhile, the menu remains rather focused for a restaurant chain — offering a few different variations on its popular hot dogs. The company also offers ribs, pasta and salad.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MAY 15: Famous Chicago hot dog at Portillo’s in downtown Chicago, Illinois Friday May 15, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Osanloo said he is eyeing a relatively untapped category for the company as one way to juice growth: breakfast.
“It’s probably the biggest complaint our Chicago customers have is that we do a pepper and eggs sandwich during Lent and we have folks lined up in our drive-thrus and outside our doors in the morning. It’s just for a limited time. Let’s just say I get a lot of strong suggestions to do breakfast in Chicagoland. It is something we will seriously consider down the road,” Osanloo noted.
The former CEO of P.F. Chang’s adds he thinks Portillo’s could reach 600 restaurants longer-term. New states targeted for restaurants include Arizona, Florida and Texas.
“There is a lot of pent up demand for Portillo’s,” Osanloo said.
Portillo’s financials suggest as much.
Through the first six months of 2021, Portillo’s sales rose more than $50 million from the same comparison a year ago. Adjusted operating margins expanded to 20% from 17%.
Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.
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