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The 2014 All-America Research Team: Restaurants, No. 1: John Glass

< The 2014 All-America Research TeamJohn GlassMorgan StanleyFirst-Place Appearances: 6

Total Appearances: 10

Analyst Debut: 2005

For a fifth straight year, Morgan Stanley’s John Glass earns first place on this lineup, garnering praise from investors for both his work in the field and his critical acumen. “Investors have to read John’s notes to understand what is happening and where the industry is going,” insists one advocate. The 50-year-old Glass, who works out of Boston, advises that the best-performing subgroup in his sector has been fast-casual restaurants, though he notes that, of course, “not everyone that calls themselves ‘fast casual’ will win.” For example, in September 2013 he simultaneously downgraded St. Louis–based soup and sandwich vendor Panera Bread Co. from overweight to equal weight and elevated Denver’s burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill from equal weight to overweight. The analyst’s survey of restaurant customers demonstrated divergent perceived value for the two operators, with Chipotle receiving high marks and Panera seen as expensive. Moreover, he explains, Chipotle’s strong branding strategy was driving an increase in awareness. Panera, on the other hand, faced weak same-store sales, slowing growth in its catering business and a loss of share to competitors. Over the year since those calls, performance has tracked his expectations. Panera’s shares tumbled 5.6 percent, to $154.84, while Chipotle’s stock soared 56.5 percent, to $655.85. During the same period the sector gained 6.8 percent.

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