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Franchise players: Megachains that rely heavily on franchises

McDonalds' "Sirloin Third Pound" hamburgers.

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Chains that depend on mom and pop

On the outside, giant restaurants can often look similar—limited-time offerings, value menus and heavy marketing.

But look under the hood, and you'll find that some are heavily dependent on the franchise model, or generating income from individual franchisees who pay annual royalties and advertising fees in addition to a onetime set-up fee. Depending on the chain, franchisees also must have substantial personal assets.

While heavily franchised businesses typically generate a less volatile stream of cash flow, they also receive a smaller benefit from restaurant boom times when sales are through the roof.

Wells Fargo recently crunched the numbers to find out what happens when the Fed raises rates, which typically occurs in exactly the healthy consumer environment when predominately franchised restaurants see a smaller benefit.

Turns out, such heavily franchised restaurants have underperformed the broader market in three of the last four periods of rising rates. These franchise heavyweights have performed in line with their broader restaurant peer group. This suggests investors focus more on a sector group rather than a particular business model, analysts found.

Pictured here are McDonald's upcoming Sirloin Third Pounders. About 81.5 percent of the fast food chain's restaurants are franchised.

Which restaurants depend most heavily on franchises as ranked by the percent of total revenue coming from franchisees, according to company filings and Wells Fargo?

Click ahead to find out.

Correction: This slideshow has been updated to reflect Burger King's total revenue.

By CNBC's Katie Little
Posted 19 April 2015

McDonald's