Stephens Takes Second Helpings of Chuy's Mexican

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 17, 2014 12:00 am  

Warren Stephens has expressed confidence in the continuing financial success of Chuy’s Holdings Inc., owner of 46 full-service Chuy’s Mexican restaurants in 13 states, including an outpost at 16001 Chenal Parkway in Little Rock.

That confidence was expressed in the best way for an investment banker: Stephens and various Stephens-related entities recently declared ownership of 1,077,879 shares of Chuy’s — 6.6 percent of the company’s outstanding stock.

Chuy’s, based in Austin, Texas, reported revenue of $204.4 million in 2013, up from $172.6 million the previous year thanks to the opening of nine new restaurants.

Its net income for 2013 was $11.1 million — double the previous year.

The stock (Nasdaq:CHUY) closed at $38.28 on Thursday, up 29.4 percent over its year-ago level.

Others associated with Stephens Inc. have moved into the restaurant business recently, including Will Slabaugh, a Stephens investment analyst who, with several associates, opened Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in downtown Little Rock last year. Slabaugh follows the restaurant industry for Stephens and has participated in Chuy’s earnings calls in the past.

Although it was open only eight months in 2013, Gus’s reported sales of $954,157, far behind many big chain restaurants in Little Rock but a respectable showing for a newly opened outlet of a regional chain. Slabaugh told Whispers in late August that he was seeking to open a second Gus's location, but he failed to respond to our email outreach last week.



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