Credit Suisse upgrades Grubhub, tells clients to expect 60% upside

  • Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju says he's developed a new tool to keep track of growing interest by chain restaurants in partnering with Grubhub.
  • "Of the top 20 U.S. restaurant chains – which accounted for $165 billion in total U.S. spend ... Grubhub has a meaningful presence with only six," Ju writes.
  • Ju incereases his 12-month price forecast for shares of Grubhub to $130 from $125, representing more than 60 percent upside from Friday's closing price.
  • The analyst also expects the food platform to report fourth-quarter earnings per share of 26 cents on Feb. 7.
GrubHub
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Credit Suisse upgraded its rating on Grubhub shares to outperform from neutral and introduced a new device to keep track of how many locations the food delivery platform opens.

Analyst Stephen Ju also increased his 12-month price forecast for shares of Grubhub to $130 from $125, representing more than 60 percent upside from Friday's closing price of $80.77.

"We have taken steps to extensively recalibrate our model and revisit the key tenets of our investment thesis," Ju wrote in a note to clients. We have "increased comfort around return on invested capital on recent initiatives, which we believe are accretive, opportunistic, and conducted from a position of strength. And we would use any potential pullback to either increase or initiate a position on Grubhub shares."

The stock rose 0.6 percent by 10:45 a.m. ET Monday.

The Credit Suisse upgrade comes after a year of intense investment by Grubhub in its delivery network, market expansion and new restaurant chain partnerships. Being able to monitor the acceleration of online order adoption by chain restaurants in an already-competitive environment is key to projecting Grubhub's future earnings, Ju wrote.

"Of the top 100 restaurant chains in the U.S. ... we estimate only 26 have a meaningful presence on Grubhub (as defined by 100+ locations)," the analyst wrote. "This implies that in the near-term roughly $14 billion in spend out of a broader $73 billion total addressable market within the base of restaurants that have demonstrated a willingness to utilize Grubhub to generate incremental online demand."

"Put another way, of the top 20 U.S. restaurant chains — which accounted for $165 billion in total U.S. spend and ~126,000 locations – Grubhub has a meaningful presence with only six chains, which in aggregate represent 26 percent and 37 percent of the spend and locations, respectively," he added.

Despite any expectations for an increase in future adoption by the nation's largest chains, Ju left his estimate for fourth-quarter sales little changed and just barely bumped higher his adjusted earnings forecast. The analyst expects the food platform to report fourth-quarter earnings per share of 26 cents on Feb. 7, below FactSet's consensus estimates of 28 cents.