All day yesterday, news of Shake Shack's burger collaborations, new location openings, and frozen custard flavors was buried under financial chatter. According to Crain's NY Danny Meyer, Shake Shack's founder and CEO, was making moves to cash out his reserves of SHAK stock. This is based on a regulatory filing stating that Meyer, who holds 1.3 million shares, would like to have the ability to reduce his lot to just 30,000 shares. Crains also reports that "[a] trust and other entities affiliated with [Meyer] filed to potentially sell all 5.1 million shares they hold."
Further, in the same document, another key SHAK shareholder — Los Angeles-based private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners — filed to sell up to 5 million shares. A total of 26.1 million shares could be for sale in a secondary offering, according to Forbes, once all of the early Class B shares (for initial investors and employees of the company) are converted into Class A shares (which can be sold and traded on the public market).
Why is this happening now?
Though the news sounds sudden, it's been nine months since Shake Shack's IPO. As with many IPOs, employees and early investors weren't able to sell shares until a certain amount of time after the IPO's launch. In SHAK's case, that was six months.
Does this mean Danny Meyer is cashing out of Shake Shack?
No. The filing doesn't mean that Meyer will sell right now, immediately. It means he is setting things up so that he can sell at some point in the future, perhaps at a moment's notice.
If Meyer were to sell some shares — to take some profit now — that wouldn't cause much of a fuss.
If he indeed sells all, or almost all of his shares within the month, this could be read as though he's betting that SHAK will not be more profitable or successful than it is right now.
But it's also an unfair projection. Reached by email, Meyer wrote:
I have never felt prouder or more confident about Shake Shack and I'm not going anywhere!
It's expected that original investors register shares post-lockup period, and it's a mistake to assume that registration signifies an intent for founders to cash out.
But what if Danny Meyer did sell his shares?
Meyer's initial shares were worth $21 apiece. Though the stock is trading down amid all of this news and uncertainty, he'd still be doubling his money if he sold right now, with the stock at about $45 a share.
So why is SHAK trading down?
It's a mistake to think — as some clearly have — that because initial investors submit this sort of filing it's a sign to other potential or current investors and followers of the business that things might not be as rosy as they appear. The stock fell over 11 percent yesterday when headlines supposed Danny Meyer was cashing out (and even leaving behind) his nine-year-old, hot-as-heck burger brand.
Stocks can drop when the lockup period ends, especially in cases like these, when the company converts classes of shares to let early investors pare down their stakes. It's a simple matter of supply and demand.
Should I sell my Shake Shack stocks right now?
This isn't a financial brokerage firm.
Shake Shack has been (and will likely continue to be) an exciting brand to watch. It's taken a model — fast food burgers and fries — that has been done to death and elevated it with what consumers want today: Quality food and consistent service with an eye on sustainability and ethics. In the past nine months Shake Shack's growth has skyrocketed. At its highest point, the stock was trading above $90 a share.
The stock market is as wobbly as a crinkle cut fry. One thing is clear: If Danny Meyer were to sell his stock now, at a relatively low point in the stock's overall trajectory, it would be cause for discomfort and worry. But Meyer isn't known for being rash. And Shake Shack still has plenty of cash.