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3 Restaurant Stocks to Buy for 2023 and 1 to Avoid

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Automation and the growing online food delivery market will likely boost the restaurant industry in the long term. Hence, fundamentally strong restaurant stocks McDonald’s (MCD), Nathan’s Famous (NATH), and Rave Restaurant (RAVE) might be ideal buys for 2023. However, given the macroeconomic headwinds, fundamentally weak Dutch Bros (BROS) might be best avoided now. Read more.


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While labor shortage has been marring the restaurant industry, according to a forecast by restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates, up to 82% of restaurant positions could, to some extent, be replaced by robots. Automation is likely to save U.S. fast-food restaurants more than $12 billion in annual wages, the group said.

Moreover, the growing prominence of hassle-free online delivery, various discount offers, convenient payment options, etc., is driving the online food delivery market in the United States. IMARC Group expects the market to reach $46.50 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 10% during 2023-2028.

Furthermore, the rising online delivery services have also led to the growth of ghost kitchens (or cloud/dark kitchens). Euromonitor predicts that the ghost kitchen market will be worth $1 trillion by 2030.

Given the solid long-term prospects of the industry, fundamentally strong restaurant stocks McDonald’s Corporation (MCD), Nathan’s Famous, Inc. (NATH), and Rave Restaurant Group, Inc. (RAVE) might be ideal buys.

However, considering the macroeconomic challenges, including labor and food cost inflation and supply chain issues, fundamentally weak restaurant stock Dutch Bros Inc. (BROS) might be best avoided now.

Stocks to Buy:

McDonald’s Corporation (MCD)

MCD and its franchisees are renowned for operating restaurants globally. The company operates through three segments: the United States (U.S.); International Operated Markets (IOM); and International Developmental Licensed Markets & Corporate (IDL).

On October 13, MCD announced an increase of 10% over the company’s previous quarterly dividend, reflecting confidence in the Accelerating the Arches growth strategy and a continued focus on driving long-term profitable growth for all stakeholders.

MCD pays $6.08 annually as dividends. This translates to a yield of 2.26% on the current price. Its four-year average dividend yield is 2.27%. The company increased its dividend payouts for 21 consecutive years.

MCD’s revenues from franchised restaurants increased 4.6% year-over-year to $3.71 billion in the third quarter, which ended September 30, 2022. The company’s total operating costs and expenses decreased 3.3% year-over-year to $3.11 billion, while its EPS stood at $2.68.

Analysts expect MCD’s EPS for the fiscal year that ended December 2022 to be $9.95, indicating a 7.3% year-over-year growth, while its revenue is expected to be $23 billion. Additionally, it has topped consensus EPS estimates in three of the trailing four quarters, which is impressive.

MCD’s trailing-12-month EBIT margin of 43.70% is 449.1% higher than the industry average of 7.96%. Its levered FCF margin of 17.77% is significantly higher than the 1.35% industry average.

The stock has gained 5.8% over the past three months to close the last trading session at $269.29.

MCD’s POWR Ratings reflect its promising outlook. The stock has an overall rating of B, which translates to a Buy in our proprietary rating system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors, with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.

MCD also has an A grade for Quality and B grade for Stability and Sentiment. It is ranked #16 of 46 stocks in the B-rated Restaurants industry.

To access additional ratings for MCD’s Growth, Value, and Momentum, click here.

Nathan’s Famous, Inc. (NATH)

NATH operates in the food service industry as an owner of franchise restaurants under Nathan’s Famous brand name. The company also sells products bearing Nathan’s Famous trademarks through various distribution channels.

On December 14, NATH announced the launch of a new franchise sales initiative aimed specifically at these struggling restaurant owners, offering to cost-effectively convert their location into a Nathan’s Famous.

The conversion program is expected to offer flexibility across restaurant design, equipment, and infrastructure, often using the restaurant’s current arrangement to save costs and open quickly. Potential franchisees can also take advantage of additional revenue opportunities through its ghost kitchen brands, Arthur Treacher’s and Wings of New York.

The company pays a $1.80 dividend annually, which translates to a yield of 2.51% at the current price, and has a 4-year average dividend yield of 2.3%. Its dividend payments have grown at a CAGR of 11.5% over the past three years. Also, it has paid dividends for four consecutive years.

NATH’s total revenues increased 14% year-over-year to $37.50 million in the fiscal second quarter ended September 25, 2022. Adjusted EBITDA and income from operations increased 32.8% and 33.3% year-over-year to $10.32 million and $9.91 million, respectively. Also, its net income and income per share came in at $5.96 million and $1.46, increasing 68.1% and 69.8% year-over-year, respectively.

The stock’s trailing-12-month EBIT margin of 26.13% is 228.3% higher than the industry average of 7.96%. Its levered FCF margin of 11.04% is 720.2% higher than the 1.35% industry average.

The stock has gained 47.4% over the past nine months to close the last trading session at $71.55.

NATH’s robust prospect is reflected in its POWR Ratings. The stock has an overall A rating, equating to a Strong Buy in our proprietary rating system.

NATH has an A grade for Quality and B grade for Sentiment and Stability. It is ranked first in the same industry.

Click here to see the additional POWR Ratings for NATH (Growth, Value, and Momentum).

Rave Restaurant Group, Inc. (RAVE)

RAVE operates and franchises pizza buffets, delivery/carry-out, and express restaurants under the Pizza Inn trademark worldwide. It operates through three segments: Pizza Inn Franchising; Pie Five Franchising; and Company-Owned Restaurants.

For the fiscal first quarter ended September 25, 2022, RAVE’s revenues increased 17.7% year-over-year to $3.01 million. The company’s net income increased 7.7% year-over-year to $307 thousand. Its adjusted EBITDA increased 25.8% year-over-year to $542 thousand. Additionally, its EPS came in at $0.02.

RAVE’s trailing-12-month net income margin of 72.18% is significantly higher than the industry average of 5.18%, and its levered FCF margin of 21.45% compares with the 1.35% industry average.

The stock has gained 73.5% over the past year to close the last trading session at $1.70.

RAVE has an overall rating of A, which translates to a Strong Buy in our proprietary rating system.

RAVE has an A grade for Quality and a B for Value and Sentiment. Within the same industry, it is ranked #3.

Beyond the grades above, we have also given RAVE grades for Growth, Momentum, and Stability. Get all RAVE ratings here.

Stock to Avoid:

Dutch Bros Inc. (BROS)

BROS operates and franchises drive-thru shops. It offers Dutch Bros hot and cold espresso-based beverages and cold brew coffee products, as well as Blue Rebel energy drinks, tea, lemonade, smoothies, and other beverages through company-operated shops and online channels.

BROS’s loss from operations amounted to $6.38 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022. Net loss for the same period amounted to $16.44 million or $0.08 per share.

Analysts expect BROS’s EPS to decline 51.5% year-over-year to $0.15 for the fiscal year that ended December 2022. Additionally, BROS has failed to surpass the consensus revenue estimates in three of the trailing four quarters.

Its trailing-12-month gross profit margin of 23.52% is 33.9% lower than the industry average of 35.58%, while its EBITDA margin of 3.47% is 68.7% lower than the 11.09% industry average.

The stock has declined 32.8% over the past nine months to close its last trading session at $34.42.

BROS’s POWR Ratings reflect this bleak outlook. The stock has an overall D rating, equating to a Sell in our proprietary rating system.

The stock is graded D in Stability, Value, and Quality. It is ranked #43 in the same industry.

In addition to the POWR Rating grades we’ve stated above, BROS’s rating for Sentiment, Momentum, and Growth can be seen here.


MCD shares were unchanged in premarket trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, MCD has gained 2.19%, versus a 4.76% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.


About the Author: Kritika Sarmah

Her interest in risky instruments and passion for writing made Kritika an analyst and financial journalist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in commerce and is currently pursuing the CFA program. With her fundamental approach, she aims to help investors identify untapped investment opportunities.

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Why the Bear Market Might End on 2/1?

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The stock market (SPY) is at a fork in the road coming into the 2/1 Fed announcement at 2pm ET. However, in this case there are 4 different directions stocks could head from here and thus 4 trading plans you should be aware of now. 40 year investment pro Steve Reitmeister spells it all out in his timely commentary below.

January has been quite bullish. Not just the solid overall gains for stocks, but the very Risk On nature of the groups that outperformed.

At this stage investors are holding their breath waiting for the next Fed announcement on Wednesday 2/1 @ 2pm ET. Anything is possible including a softening of their hawkish stance that would give bulls a green light to keep running ahead.

Just as likely is the Fed doubling down on their previous statements that would have stocks tumbling lower once again.

Indeed, a lot hangs on Wednesday’s announcement. So, let’s discuss how each possible outcome would alter our trading plans.

Market Commentary

I see 4 possible scenarios after this very crucial Fed announcement on February 1. Let’s review each and how it would affect our trading plans to carve out profits from the stock market.

Scenario 1: Raging Bull (the Bear is Dead!)

In this scenario the Fed makes a clear and evident pivot in their rate hike regime. Meaning that they see inflation coming down faster than expected and will not have to keep rates high through the end of the year as previously stated.

This unexpected dovish tilt will delight investors as it greatly increases the odds of a soft landing for the economy with stocks raging higher. This should compel investors to abandon their bear market outlook quickly and switch to more Risk On selections that would outperform in a new bull market.

Or simply, sell everything that did well in 2022 and buy the investments that did poorly last year with emphasis on growth over value.

Note that I think the odds of the Fed pivoting so obviously at this stage is incredibly low. The next section is the more probable bullish possibility.

Scenario 2: Cautious Bull

Here we get more subtle hints from the Fed of a potential future pivot in policy. Like they are encouraged by moderating inflation…and will keep rates higher for longer to make sure that rating inflation is good and dead…but just maybe they won’t have to do it for as long as previously stated.

This would increase the current bullish bias in the market. However, the total upside would be more limited as investors would still be too worried about the next Fed statement. And will also be very cautious as they view economic data which is tilting more and more towards recession.

In this case, I would recommend being moderately bullish. Whereas Scenario 1 would compel investors getting back to 100% long…this would be more like 50% long the stock market. And yes, that should be with the same kind of Risk On selections noted above. Just a smaller allocation with ample cash on hand.

Note that this scenario still leaves open the chance that the Fed stays hawkish too long and we still tip over into recession with bear market coming back on the scene. That explains why only 50% long as downside risks still exist.

Scenario 3: Bear Returns with a Vengeance

The Fed has proactively talked down bulls at 2 previous junctures putting an end to premature rallies. I am referring to the famed Jackson Hole speech in August where Powell scared everyone senseless ending the 18% summer rally with new lows in the offing.

A more subtle version of this happened at the beginning of December where he reiterated the “higher rates for longer” mantra more times than I can count. Plus it was clear that they would rather risk recession than leaving any flames of inflation in the economy as that is the greater long term evil.

So if Powell gets back on the “bully pulpit“, or in any way implies that bulls are WAY ahead of themselves, then the bear market comes back with a vengeance. That’s because the longer the Fed stays hawkish…the higher the odds a hard landing (recession) for the economy.

In this case, stay bearish and stick with the 2022 bear market playbook with inverse ETFs and conservative stocks to squeeze out profits as the market heads lower.

Scenario 4: Dazed & Confused

This is where the Fed gives mixed signals. Still hawkish for a long time to save face given previous statements. And yet do tip their hat a little to moderating inflation.

This gray area leads to a trading range until investors have more facts in hand. I suspect that 4,000 is the low end with 4,200 at the high end. This comes hand in hand with a ton of volatility as each new headline has investors recalibrate the bull/bear odds.

This trading range evolves into 1 of the 3 other scenarios in the future depending on future Fed statements and health of the economy. The more you think it will become like scenario 1 or 2 means you tilt more bullish on your trading strategy. And if you still believe that the bearish scenario 3 is where we end up…then you play the trading range with the same degree of caution.

Conclusion

Yes, there is a lot riding on the Fed statement. I am prepared for any of these scenarios to play out with 2 and 3 being the most likely followed by 4.

No doubt you are thinking to yourself “isn’t there an easier way to invest in the stock market?”

Unfortunately not.

The future outlook for the economy, and thus stock prices, is never 100% certain. And thus it is MOST confusing at the 180 degree turns from bearish to bullish or vice versa.

Once we make that big turn, then we get on to the straightaway. Once there the outlook becomes clearer allowing us to enact plans with a greater degree of certainty.

I will of course dissect every word of the Fed announcement to determine which scenario we are in with appropriate change in trading strategy to quickly follow.

Hold onto the steering wheel tight and be ready for anything!

What To Do Next?

Watch my brand new presentation: “Stock Trading Plan for 2023” covering:

  • Why 2023 is a “Jekyll & Hyde” year for stocks
  • Why the Bear Market Could Come Back
  • 9 Trades to Profit Now
  • 2 Trades with 100%+ Upside Potential as New Bull Emerges
  • And Much More!

Watch “Stock Trading Plan for 2023” Now >

Wishing you a world of investment success!

Steve Reitmeister…but everyone calls me Reity (pronounced “Righty”)
CEO, StockNews.com and Editor, Reitmeister Total Return


SPY shares fell $0.47 (-0.12%) in after-hours trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, SPY has gained 6.29%, versus a % rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.


About the Author: Steve Reitmeister

Steve is better known to the StockNews audience as “Reity”. Not only is he the CEO of the firm, but he also shares his 40 years of investment experience in the Reitmeister Total Return portfolio. Learn more about Reity’s background, along with links to his most recent articles and stock picks.

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Wall Street’s Most Connected Black Woman Has An Ingenious Idea To Narrow The Wealth Gap

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This story appears in the December/January 2023 issue of Forbes Magazine. Subscribe

To boost more talented minority executives into the corporate stratosphere, Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson wants to install them at the top of existing businesses—and connect them with the customers and capital to succeed.

Asa sixth grader in Chicago public schools in 1980, Mellody Hobson was mortified by the snaggletooth that protruded when she smiled. It simply didn’t fit the future she envisioned for herself.

She asked her friends who wore braces for the name of their orthodontist, and without her mother knowing, made an appointment, walking from school to his office. He said she’d have to wear braces for years and that it would cost $2,500—a monumental sum for Hobson’s struggling single mother, who was raising her and her five siblings in a home where money was so tight the electricity was periodically shut off because of unpaid bills. No matter. That tooth was going to be fixed: Hobson and the orthodontist agreed to a payment plan of about $50 per month.

In eighth grade, determined to go to one of Chicago’s best private high schools, she asked friends where they were applying, called the schools and arranged to tour them with her mother in tow. She wound up at St. Ignatius College Prep on a scholarship.

In 2020, in the wake of the nationwide George Floyd protests, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wanted to aid Black businesses. He called Hobson, by then a JPMorgan board member, hoping to tap into that same sheer force of will. “I said, ‘We really need a sustainable investment effort—totally for-profit—to invest in minority companies,’ ” Dimon recalls. He told her he wanted Ariel Investments, where Hobson is co-CEO and president, involved, then rattled off other minority-owned businesses as potential partners.

Hobson was characteristically blunt but upbeat. “I said to him, ‘Jamie, [some of] these companies are gone,’ which he did not know. ‘But I think I have an idea.’ ” She drafted a four-page memo outlining “Project Black” and emailed it to Dimon on September 8, a week after his initial call.

The idea: Ariel would form a private equity fund to invest in middle-market companies and provide them the capital—and, more crucially, the contacts—needed to sell to large corporations eager to diversify their supply chains. Dimon was sold instantly. “When people talk about Black businesses, they talk about access to capital, access to capital, access to capital,” Hobson says. “Access to customers may be more important.” Currently, a meager 2% of corporate spending goes to minority-owned suppliers.

There’s another conventional wisdom–busting aspect of this strategy. Black entrepreneurs start lots of businesses, but very few grow large enough to become suppliers to the Walmarts of the world; of the 500 or so private companies in the U.S. with more than $1 billion a year in sales, just five are Black-owned.

Project Black aims to leapfrog the size barrier by acquiring companies with $100 million to $1 billion in sales and, if they’re not already minority-run, installing Black and Latino executives to manage them—“minoritizing” the companies, as Hobson puts it. These firms should then be well positioned to acquire smaller minority-owned enterprises and grow into competitive top-tier suppliers—satisfying big companies’ supply chain needs and diversity goals at the same time.

Hobson “is as comfortable with a part-time barista as she is with any high-profile person,” says Starbucks’ Howard Schultz. 


On February 1, Ariel closed its first Project Black fund with $1.45 billion in commitments from AmerisourceBergen, Amgen, Lowe’s, Merck, Next-Era, Nuveen, Salesforce, Synchrony, Truist, Walmart, the Qatar Investment Authority, Hobson’s family foundation and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who put $200 million in. That’s all on top of an up to $200 million pledge that JPMorgan made in 2021 to get the ball rolling.

That $1.45 billion is more than five times the size of the average first-time private equity fund and brings assets under management at Ariel, including its mutual funds and separately managed accounts, above $16 billion. Forbes figures Hobson’s nearly 40% stake in what is the nation’s oldest (founded 1983) Black-owned investment shop is worth $100 million. (John W. Rogers Jr., the founder, chairman and co-CEO, owns 34%.)

Like so much else the 53-year-old Hobson has done during her one-of-a-kind career, the Project Black memo was neither off-the-cuff nor a solo production. Instead, it was built on years of relentless hard work, analysis and networking. After the May 2020 murder of Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman, Hobson organized Sunday Zoom calls with a cadre of top Black business executives to brainstorm ways that capitalists could narrow the racial wealth gap—and make a profit. “I said, ‘This hasn’t been done before.’ ”

One Zoom regular was Leslie A. Brun, the 70-year-old Haiti-born founder and former head of Hamilton Lane, which now oversees $824 billion in alternative investments. He’s CEO (and, with Hobson, cofounder) of Ariel Alternatives, which is running Project Black. “We could change the paradigm and the conversation about what it means to be a minority-owned business,” he says, “because if you look at the federal definition, it’s small and disadvantaged. We want to be large and advantaged.”

Among value investing firms, Ariel Investments is known for a patient, contrarian buy-and-hold approach. Turtles and tortoises—metal figurines, wooden replicas, stone sculptures and tortoiseshell imprints—decorate nearly every office and conference room in both its Chicago headquarters and Hobson’s main office in San Francisco’s Presidio.

Yet Hobson’s rise at Ariel was anything but slow. Founder Rogers hired her right out of Princeton and let her know, when she was just 25, that he planned to make her its president by the time she was 30. “Whenever you have a star, you want them to see a career path—that’s basic business 101,” says Rogers, who first spotted Hobson’s promise when she was a high school senior and he was recruiting Chicago students for Princeton.

Even in grade school, Hobson fixated on education as her ticket to a secure future. She was by far the youngest of Dorothy Ashley’s six children—her oldest sibling is more than two decades her senior. Hobson describes her mother as loving, optimistic (sometimes unrealistically so) and hardworking. Ashley tried to make a living renovating condos, but between discrimination and spotty money management skills, she couldn’t always pay the bills. Hobson’s childhood was peppered with multiple evictions and utility shut-offs.

“It felt extremely insecure,” says Hobson, who has become a powerful advocate for financial literacy. “I ended up knowing way more about our life than any child should know. I knew what our rent was. I knew when our phone bill was late.”

Hobson had been accepted to both Harvard and Princeton and was set on Harvard until she attended a Princeton recruitment dinner, organized by Rogers, at the Chicago Yacht Club. Venture capitalist Richard Missner sat down beside her and declared that he intended to change both her choice of college and her life. He began calling her every day, eventually inviting her to a breakfast for one of his Princeton classmates—then-U.S. Senator and former New York Knicks star Bill Bradley—seating her next to the guest of honor.

“Mellody made a very deep impression on me,” Bradley says. “She is where she is today because of the values she held as a high school senior, her incredible discipline and a positive energy level that made people want to be around her.” Hobson chose Princeton, and a lasting friendship was born.

When Bradley ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000, Hobson was a tireless fundraiser, impressing another Bradley backer: Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz. Hobson joined Starbucks’ board in 2005 and became nonexecutive chair in 2021, making her the only Black woman currently heading an S&P 500 board.

“The currency of the way she carries herself is steeped in emotional intelligence,” Schultz says. “Mellody is always present. She puts on no airs. She’s as comfortable with a part-time barista as she is with any high-profile person you can mention.”

Schultz introduced Hobson to DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who in turn recruited her for his board. Hobson became chair of DreamWorks in 2012 and in 2016 negotiated its sale for $3.8 billion (a 50% premium to its stock price before talks became public) across from Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, a famously tough bargainer. “She had never bought or sold a company before, but you would have thought she had been doing this her whole life,” Katzenberg marvels.

The movie connection presumably gave Hobson something to talk about when she met Star Wars creator George Lucas at an Aspen, Colorado, business conference in 2006. On their first dinner date they talked about their shared commitment to promoting educational access. When she married the billionaire in 2013 at his Skywalker Ranch in California, Bradley walked her down the aisle. (Lucas, Hobson and their 9-year-old daughter have their primary homes in California, as well as a penthouse in Chicago.)

It’s a lifelong pattern: One A-list friend or business associate is wowed and introduces Hobson to another, who repeats the process. She met Formula 1 champion Sir Lewis Hamilton in 2007 through Lucas, a racing enthusiast; she now calls the British driver her “little brother” and included him in the new Denver Broncos ownership group (Hobson owns 5.5%) headed by billionaire Walmart heir Rob Walton.

Former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg and Hobson bonded when both served on Starbucks’ board. Hobson was there for her, Sandberg says, when her husband died suddenly from a heart condition in 2015. Tennis great Serena Williams met Hobson through a mutual friend, Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys. “We totally hit it off.

I admired what she was talking about,” Williams says. “Now, it’s so funny. I don’t remember anything she said—I just remember being totally enamored by how authoritative she was. For me, it’s always so exciting to see someone like her, in that position, to be so confident to have that aplomb when she walks into a room.”

No relationship has been more important to Hobson than her apprenticeship-turned-partnership with Ariel founder John W. Rogers Jr. The 64-year-old Rogers grew up in a different world: His father was a Tuskegee Airman and a judge. His mother was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Chicago Law School and the granddaughter of one of the architects of Greenwood, the prosperous Black community in Tulsa destroyed by a white riot in 1921. Rogers captained the Princeton basketball team when Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother, was a freshman on it. He later became close to the Obamas, chairing the president-elect’s first inauguration committee and giving him Ariel’s offices to work from after his victory.

When Hobson came home from Princeton for Christmas break her sophomore year, Rogers invited her to meet his mother, Jewel Lafontant, at her Water Tower Place apartment. “I was in this beautiful apartment, and it just seemed so normal to them, and they were Black, which I had not ever seen before,” Hobson says. “The bar got reset in that moment.”

While interning at Ariel the following summer, Hobson didn’t hide her ambition. On Saturday mornings, Rogers would go to a McDonald’s downtown—on Wabash Avenue under the train tracks, Hobson remembers—order two biscuits with butter and a large Diet Coke and sit there reading a stack of newspapers. Hobson would show up with the same stack of papers and read them in the same order—just so she’d be prepared in case he commented on what he was reading.

“She was always eager to jump in the car wherever I was going,” Rogers says. He helped her get an internship with T. Rowe Price the next summer, and she interviewed with big Wall Street firms for a job after graduating from Princeton in 1991. But she joined tiny Ariel instead. Rather than being a small cog in a huge machine, she wanted to start her career in the room where decisions were made.

Rogers manages Ariel’s stock picking and investment strategies; Hobson oversees everything else. She became co-CEO in 2019, the same year she bought 14% of Rogers’ ownership stake—making her the largest shareholder in Ariel, with 39.5%. (Read more about Rogers’ current stock picks here.)

In its 40 years, Ariel has gone through some rough patches—the most harrowing during the 2008 global financial crisis, when the Ariel Fund, its largest, fell 48% and investors fled. The firm’s assets collapsed from $21 billion in 2004 to just $3.3 billion in March 2009, and it was forced to lay off 18 of its 100 employees. Hobson and Rogers visited their friend and mentor, billionaire investor Mario Gabelli, for advice. “Keep your seat belt fastened. Don’t sell the business,” Gabelli recalls telling them. “Don’t look for an equity partner. Keep it yourself and go full speed ahead.” They sent Gabelli a thank-you note, and after the Ariel Fund returned 63% in 2009, crushing its competition, he sent that note back to them in a frame with “I told you so” scrawled in big letters on top.

Project Black made its first investment last year, acquiring 52.5% of Utah-based Sorenson Communications from other private equity investors at an enterprise value of $1.3 billion. The two-decade-old company, with $837 million in sales in the year ended in September 2021, is the leader in services for the deaf and hard of hearing—providing everything from phone call captioning to sign-language interpreters. Sorenson’s new CEO is Jorge Rodriguez, a 53-year-old telecom veteran, who previously ran various subsidiaries for Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s América Móvil corporation.

In less than 12 months the company has gone from one person of color to 13 across its C-suite and boardroom. Sorenson is adding Spanish-language services and has agreed to acquire 70% of CQ Fluency, a minority-owned business with annual revenue of $45 million, that provides translation services to health insurers including Cigna, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group.

Over the next three years, Project Black plans to similarly buy, minoritize and expand companies in six to 10 other areas where it sees room for growth, based on its conversations with larger firms. It’s looking at financial and professional services, health care, technology, manufacturing and logistics. “We don’t want to be the provider of janitorial services,” emphasizes Ariel Alternatives CEO Leslie Brun. “We want to be in the mainstream of the economy and providing value-added services.”

Hobson and Brun aren’t just working their own C-suite contacts. Some of those original Sunday Zoom partici-pants are now advisors—people such as William M. Lewis, an Apollo partner who was chairman of investment banking at Lazard for 17 years ending in 2021, and James Bell, the former Boeing CFO whose board memberships include Apple. Naturally, Rogers, who sits on the boards of McDonald’s, Nike and the New York Times, is also an advisor.

Hobson, Brun and their backers throw around huge numbers about what Project Black and similar efforts can accomplish. Over the next decade, they forecast, their portfolio companies will generate an additional $8 billion to $10 billion in annual revenue while creating 100,000 jobs for underrepresented people. But that’s just the start. Some big corporations are talking about boosting purchases from minority-run suppliers from the current 2% to 10% or even 15%. That could translate to a trillion-dollar opportunity. The thesis, Steve Ballmer says, is that “there’s an untapped market” that “will not only benefit the community but will generate great returns for us as an investor.” Brun says he’ll consider Project Black a success if it spawns copycat investment funds.

Beyond the numbers, this is partly a networking play designed to match capital and people—which is, in essence, one of Hobson’s superpowers. Already, she says, “we’ve had people come to us and say ‘If you were to buy a business one day, maybe I could run it.’ ” She contrasts that with what she has long heard from big business. “So many times, especially in corporate America, they say they can’t identify the [minority] talent,” Hobson says. “We know them as friends. We know them up and down the food chain in corporate America. We know them as entrepreneurs. We know them as business leaders.”

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Entrepreneurship

5 Ways to Expand Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business

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In Rich Mintzer’s new book, Start Your Own Pet Business, the author expertly outlines everything you need to know to successfully launch a pet-based business. In this excerpt, we’ll look at ways to bring in new revenue streams that go beyond walking or sitting more furry clients.

Offer more services

If you really know your way around a pooch, these are some services that most dog owners are always in need of:

  • Grooming
  • Taxi service to veterinary and grooming appointments
  • Obedience training

Those are just a few of the possibilities. The good news about most of that list, and about a lot of services, is that your business incurs little in the way of additional costs per service. Typically, the cost to you is in time and perhaps a few supplies. Your real costs are in obtaining your own education and then any additional equipment you need to provide the service. It’s not likely all your customers will want to avail themselves of your new services, but some will. And voila! You’ve expanded

Selling products

The other way you can expand is to be a reseller of products that your existing customers might need. Many pet-related service providers find a product they really like and use on their own animals and then become a dealer for that product — certain kinds of leashes or collars, shampoo products, nutritional supplements, etc. This can be a great way to sell because your personal enthusiasm for the product comes across in a sincere way. Or you may find that your customers use some everyday products you could sell. This makes your customers’ lives a little easier and makes you some profit.

Some considerations for selling products:

  • Products have an upfront cost associated with them. Many companies require their dealers to buy a certain quantity each month to keep their dealership status and to
  • get the discount that you’ll need to make a profit on the item.
  • You need to have room to warehouse your supplies. With food, this warehousing can be very specific in terms of rodent-proofing.
  • Rather than trying to offer everything under the sun, find a niche market or a way to personalize the products. Perhaps you can provide customized frames and offer to print some of the million photos of poochie they have on their phone.

Related: Dive deeper with Start Your Own Pet Business on sale now

Night Watch or Off-Hour Feeding

Just because an animal hospital or pet store is closed does not mean the animals don’t need care. If you live in a populated enough area where several veterinary offices or pet stores are located, you may be able to make a whole business of off-hour service. This service could involve being the regular off-hour caretaker on certain days of the week. Or you could provide backup when the regular staff is sick or away. Care probably includes feeding, cleaning cages, and perhaps providing a bit of exercise to the animals. It definitely includes checking on each animal and reporting to the appropriate person if any animal seems unwell.

Doggie Day-Care Service

A new service that is becoming even more popular: doggie daycare. Working dog owners are using doggie daycare facilities like never before. It’s essentially multiple pet-sitting in one place of your choice. These facilities are intended for a working dog owner to drop off their dog in the morning and pick up the dog at the end of the workday. For this to go smoothly, you need to consider a number of things:

  • You will need play areas for the dogs. Actually, depending on the number of dogs you plan to take in at once, you’ll probably need several play areas. Not all dogs get along, and you want to sort them into groups that play well together.
  • The dogs need time to relax and take a break from playing with their buddies. You’ll need nap areas that are comfortable places to snooze, are warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • If you want to offer the best daycare, you should have a covered or indoor play area
  • so dogs can play in any weather.
  • This is not likely to be a business you will set up in your home. The liabilities, zoning laws, and so many other factors make it impractical unless you are only looking after two or three dogs. If you want to watch the herd, you’ll need to rent space. Then the question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether you can get enough regular clients to cover the costs of renting a space. Crunch the numbers carefully before moving forward; start out with three dogs at your house and see if you really want to branch out.

Offer classes

You may be able to expand your business at least a little by offering classes in pet care, pet first aid, basic obedience training, or other kinds of training. You’ll need to find a space that allows classes with pets to be conducted. Teaching can be a fun adjunct to your business, and it can bring in business as well! Plan your presentation in advance, practice, show your enthusiasm for pets as well as the subject you’re teaching. You should probably first try training some dogs for your clients free of charge until you get the hang of it. Once you feel you are proficient, you can start charging modest fees with new clients to also help them train their dogs. You should include some one-on-one work with the owner and the dog together. You can give private lessons or run a class—but you’d better be good at it. If you develop a reputation for successfully training dogs, you can make good money. People will pay $30 to $80 per class for dog training, so it might be worthwhile to hone your skills.

Related: Pet Lovers, Here’s How to Get Your Dream Business or Side Hustle Started

Other Home-Related Services

Extra services over and above feeding, cleaning cat litter boxes, and letting dogs out can bring in extra money from additional fees and create more of an appeal for your services. They can also attract new customers. Pet owners hiring a pet sitter are pleased to know that the same person is also willing to bring in the mail, water the plants, turn a few lights on or off, and generally help give the home the appearance of being occupied.

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