World Cup & Restaurants: Eat, Play, Love These Stocks - Analyst Blog

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"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." ~ Bill Shankly.

So very true. The 2014 FIFA World Cup, now a little over 10 days old, is hugely popular with the U.S. television audiences.

The United States has a complex relationship with soccer which has finally made a place for itself in America's sporting culture. But if the World Cup still seems obtuse from an American perspective, the figures below will indicate that it has hit a home run.

In fact, Sunday night's crunch match between the U.S. and Portugal drew 18.2 million viewers on ESPN, according to the figures from broadcaster ESPN. This figure comfortably surpassed any of the NBA Finals games on ABC this year, according to Nielsen. ABC and ESPN are both owned by The Walt Disney Company ( DIS ).

Including the 6.5 million viewing the game in Spanish on Univision, the match drew 24.7 million viewers - the same number that tuned into the World Cup final in 2010 on ABC and Univision. Add to this the viewership average of 490,000 a minute on ESPN's online app, WatchESPN. The astounding figure clearly shows that the U.S. audience too has caught the global football fever.

The frenzy can also be felt in the restaurant industry that got a free kick from the escalating World Cup viewership. As the U.S. team plays unpredictably well in the tournament, soccer fans throng sports bars, and the restaurant stocks are fired up. Here are some that are scoring high.

Favorite Players

"Like Football? Try Futbol!" screams Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. 's ( BWLD ) World Cup advertising campaign. The Golden Valley-based wings chain, which operates more than 1,000 wings-and-beers restaurant, is the first name that crops up as we speak of World Cup Frenzy.

June has historically been a slow time for Buffalo Wild Wings due to a lull in sporting events in the U.S. But the World Cup in Brazil, is being held in similar time zones and the restaurant is making the most of the convenient match timings this year. In fact, the restaurateur saw longer waiting times for any table for viewership in the bar, dining room or patio of B-dubs locations over the past 10 days, according to a report from Wunderlich Securities

Further, the high viewership of the U.S. and Portugal match sent shares of the company to an all-time high of $166.25 at the close on Jun 23. This represents a rise of almost 6% from the prior trading session.

In fact the chain has also launched social media promotions besides partnering with Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV 's ( BUD ) Budweiser brand to launch a mobile game offering World Cup related prizes.

The World Cup mania has also entered the fine world of pizza cuisine. Pizza chains like Papa John's International Inc. ( PZZA ) and Domino's Pizza, Inc. ( DPZ ) are taking advantage of the globally captivated TV audience.

Papa John's had launched a promotional offer of 50% discount on all large pizzas if the U.S. national team scores two or more goals in its opening match. Christened "Score Twice Half Price", the offer was redeemed online.

The pizza chains are also cracking down on mobile apps to cater to increased online orders. In fact, mobile and online ordering accounts for 40.0% of Domino's U.S. sales. Domino's recent deal with Nuance Communications, Inc. ( NUAN ) to launch a voice-ordering function in its mobile app bears testimony to the pizza chain's efforts to ramp up its digital platform to manage peak ordering times during the World Cup. (Read More: Domino's Launches Voice Ordering Service )

From the Commentary Box

While the U.S national team battles it out for the trophy, we believe the U.S. restaurant industry has already emerged a winner.


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: DPZ , BWLD , DIS , PZZA , NUAN

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