MCD reported February global same-restaurant sales growth of -1.5% versus consensus of -1.6% (not adjusting for the calendar shift).  While calendar shifts are material for monthly headline numbers, the trend in McDonald’s comparable sales growth is unmistakably negative.  In five of the last eight months, McDonald’s has reported flat or down same-restaurants sales growth.  This is the longest sustained slowdown in sales trends since the company’s historic “plan-to-win” turnaround. 

This begs the question: can McDonald’s maintain its long term system-wide sales and operating income growth targets of 3-5% and 6-7%, respectively?


We remain skeptical that this slowdown is macro-driven; it seems evident that there are company-specific issues that are yet to be addressed by management.   Below, we update our thoughts on the various geographies.





There is nothing in the currents sales trends or in management communicated turnaround strategies that would cause us to reverse our negative stance on MCD.  We still believe MCD will see flat-to-low single digit EPS growth in 2013.  The emphasis on value has boosted MCD SRS growth in recent months, but history has shown that this strategy is not effective over the long term.  In fact, it externalities of this approach can impede sustainable earnings growth over time as operational complexity increases. 


The macro environment is challenging for a number of companies but the changes in McDonald’s long-term trends suggest that there are company-specific issues at play.  The current guidance for food inflation suggests that 2013 will not be as big an issue for MCD as in 2012, but the risk of upward revisions remains high.  Operating margins around the world are likely to continue to be pressured by sales deleveraging and incremental development costs.   


Our macro team retains its bullish view on the USD which would be a headwind for MCD Earnings, given its FX exposure.





February comparable sales growth for the domestic market was -3.3%, or flat excluding the segment’s calendar shift, versus consensus of -3.6%.  Sales were better than expected despite choppiness in consumer spending trends.   February represented the most difficult comparison for MCD in the U.S.



  • Fish McBites were introduced
  • Heavy focus on the Dollar Menu continued
  • Several lower-performing items were dropped from the menu, including the Fruit  & Walnut Salad and Chicken Selects.  We expect McDonald’s to drop the Angus Burger in the near future
  • Monthly SRS have held up on the back of incremental value message promotion, but this is not a sustainable trend
  • Extended hours are not driving incremental sales
  • The $6-7 casual dining lunch price point of $6-7 is competitive with MCD core menu items at lunch



MCD Europe

Europe comparable sales growth came in at -0.5%, or +2.7% excluding the calendar shift, versus -0.4% consensus. 



  • Russia and the UK continue to generate positive same-restaurant sales on the back of extended day parts and it appears that the horsemeat scandal may not have significantly impacted UK trends
  • German and France continue to experience declining sales and traffic trends, despite continuing messaging around value platforms
  • Margins in Europe are under pressure and will likely Margins in Europe are under pressure and will likely continue to contract in FY13 as sales growth remains under pressure in the region
  • The boost from reimaging is likely to diminish over time as almost all of the interiors and half of exteriors in the region have been completed





Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) February comparable sales growth decreased -1.6%, or +1.5% including the segment’s calendar shift, versus consensus of  -1.5%.



  • Australia continues to deliver positive SRS growth, while China benefited from the timing of Chinese New Year
  • Japan trends remain soft with February SRS trends of -12.1%
  • Average check at MCD Japan improved but traffic continued to decelerate, declining -10.9% year-over-year, versus the -8.1% decline in January.
  • Given the seemingly secular deceleration in Japan and the difficult environment in China, APMEA is also likely seeing continued margin pressure
  • What ideas, beyond value, are being put forward to improve the APMEA business?
  • Almost 2/3 of markets offer extended hours of some form and over half are open 24 hours.  This spigot is slowly closing from an incremental sales growth perspective.



Howard Penney

Managing Director


Rory Green

Senior Analyst




7 Tweets Summing Up What You Need to Know About Today's GDP Report

"There's a tremendous opportunity to educate people in our profession on how GDP is stated and projected," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote today. Here's everything you need to know about today's GDP report.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Crash Test Bear

In the past six months, U.S. stock indices are up between +12% and +18%.

read more

GOLD: A Deep Dive on What’s Next with a Top Commodities Strategist

“If you saved in gold over the past 20 to 25 years rather than any currency anywhere in the world, gold has outperformed all these currencies,” says Stefan Wieler, Vice President of Goldmoney in this edition of Real Conversations.

read more

Exact Sciences Up +24% This Week... What's Next? | $EXAS

We remain long Exact Sciences in the Hedgeye Healthcare Position Monitor.

read more

Inside the Atlanta Fed's Flawed GDP Tracker

"The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNowcast model, while useful at amalgamating investor consensus on one singular GDP estimate for any given quarter, is certainly not the end-all-be-all of forecasting U.S. GDP," writes Hedgeye Senior Macro analyst Darius Dale.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Acrophobia

"Most people who are making a ton of money right now are focused on growth companies seeing accelerations," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote in today's Early Look. "That’s what happens in Quad 1."

read more

People's Bank of China Spins China’s Bad-Loan Data

PBoC Deputy Governor Yi says China's non-performing loan problem has “pretty much stabilized." "Yi is spinning. China’s bad-debt problem remains serious," write Benn Steil and Emma Smith, Council on Foreign Relations.

read more

UnderArmour: 'I Am Much More Bearish Than I Was 3 Hours Ago'

“The consumer has a short memory.” Yes, Plank actually said this," writes Hedgeye Retail analyst Brian McGough. "Last time I heard such arrogance was Ron Johnson."

read more

Buffalo Wild Wings: Complacency & Lack of Leadership (by Howard Penney)

"Buffalo Wild Wings has been plagued by complacency and a continued lack of adequate leadership," writes Hedgeye Restaurants analyst Howard Penney.

read more

Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands Earnings

"The quarter actually beat lowered expectations. Overall, the mass segment performed well although base mass lagging is a concern," writes Hedgeye Gaming, Lodging & Leisure analyst Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands.

read more

An Update on Defense Spending by Lt. Gen Emo Gardner

"Congress' FY17 omnibus appropriation will fully fund the Pentagon's original budget request plus $15B of its $30B supplemental request," writes Hedgeye Potomac Defense Policy analyst Lt. Gen Emerson "Emo" Gardner USMC Ret.

read more

Got Process? Zero Hedge Sells Fear, Not Truth

Fear sells. Always has. Look no further than Zero Hedge.

read more