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The true health of the restaurant industry is up for constant debate. While there is data, it’s hard to know exactly what makes up that data. Anyone looking just at legacy casual dining is going to think the industry is falling to pieces. Anyone just looking at asset-light QSR stocks may be wearing rose-colored glasses.

So to get a true sense of how the industry leaders are performing, our sister publication the Restaurant Finance Monitor has launched its own index dubbed the Restaurant Finance Monitor Stock INDXX (RFMSI).

The tool will help answer many questions about the industry and bridge gaps of understanding between “main street, Wall Street and the restaurateur,” said Dan Weiskopf, the founder of Access ETF Solutions LLC. Access developed the index and is behind the research.

He said there are a few things that make the index different from other measures of the industry and other indexes in the industry. One key is how the index will be weighted, instead of market-cap weighting, the index is research based.

“A market-cap weighting in the restaurant industry skews way too much to the large brands like," said Weiskopf. "As such the top six to 10 companies drive the performance. The problem is that six companies don’t make a trend and certainly shouldn’t define an industry.”

So what does it say? Things are not great, but not recessionary. The index was up about 7 percent from 2017, well behind 21.5 percent seen at the S&P 500, but that's no reason to panic.

"Arguably this disappointing performance was more about the disruption occurring in the industry than about any lack of expansion,” said Weiskopf.

To keep up with the index, head over to franchisetimes.com/monitorindex.

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