Chick-fil-A money machine: Cathy brothers are billionaires

Chick-fil-A executives and brothers Dan and Donald Cathy run one of the most controversial fast-food chains around. Doing so makes them some of the richest men in the country.

The privately held Atlanta company is valued at $4.5 billion, according to research firm PrivCo. Don “Bubba” Cathy and Dan Cathy -- he of anti-gay-marriage fame -- each own a third.

According to PrivCo, that means the Cathys, sons of Chick-fil-A founder Samuel Truett Cathy, are worth $1.5 billion apiece.

That’s leaving out the $47.5 million in revenue the company could garner each year if it didn’t close its outlets on Sunday -- a policy in line with the chain’s Christian principles. Opening on Sundays would add $190 million to Chick-fil-A’s net worth, according to PrivCo.

Whether the company will take a financial hit due to the outcry over Dan Cathy’s comments earlier this month about the “the biblical definition of the family unit” is unclear -- Chick-fil-A tends to be tight-lipped about in-depth financial data.


But according to PrivCo., the company operates with a whopping 44% EBITDA margin, “virtually unheard of in the restaurant industry.” Chick-fil-A and its waffle fries and chicken sandwiches brought in $1.12 billion in revenue last year, researchers estimate.

The company, however, said its system-wide sales reached $4.1 billion in 2011, a 13% boost over 2010.

There are more than 1,300 Chick-fil-A units as well as three full-service Truett’s Grill restaurants and 11 Dwarf House eateries. The company franchises 97% of its units, allowing it to limit its capital expenditures and boost cash flow, according to PrivCo.

On average, each Chick-fil-A location brings in $2.96 million in sales a year, according to PrivCo.

A separate estimate from QSR magazine estimates that Chick-fil-A brings in $2.89 million for each unit per year, topping all other quick-service chains. McDonald’s is second with $2.5 million per store, followed by Panera Bread’s $2.3 million.

According to the estimate, Chick-fil-A added 69 new restaurants from 2010 to 2011.


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