McDonald’s stock rises to a record, brushing off investor worries about sales

January 20, 2024 | by


McDonald’s stock defies investor concerns about declining sales and surges to a record high. Despite worries about decelerating same-store sales, Wells Fargo sees positive improvement in sales trends throughout the fourth quarter of 2023. This optimism comes amidst growing tensions in the Middle East and an increasingly competitive promotional environment in the quick-service restaurant industry. While there are doubts about the year-over-year growth in same-store sales and traffic, Wells Fargo remains optimistic about McDonald’s stock, citing mixed investor sentiment and a reasonable valuation. The stock is expected to deliver solid fourth-quarter results, and Wall Street may be underestimating the long-term impact of McDonald’s store expansion.

McDonalds stock rises to a record, brushing off investor worries about sales



McDonald’s stock has reached a record high, defying concerns from investors about declining sales. While worries persist about same-store sales and traffic in a volatile economic climate, there are positive factors that indicate potential for growth. This article will analyze sales trends, investor sentiment, and upcoming earnings reports to provide an outlook for McDonald’s stock.

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Background Information


McDonald’s Corp. has experienced a surge in stock prices, with expectations of setting a new record. Despite concerns from Wall Street about decreasing sales and increased competition, this fast-food giant seems to be defying expectations.

Market Data

Investors have become more cautious about McDonald’s ability to meet fourth-quarter same-store sales expectations due to geopolitical tensions and a competitive environment in the fast-food industry. However, there are indications that sales trends have improved throughout the fourth quarter.

Investor Worries about Sales

Investors are concerned about the deceleration of same-store sales growth and negative prospects for traffic growth in 2024. These worries have been fueled by the strong performance seen in previous years and the current macroeconomic environment.

Analysis of Sales Trends

Improvement in Sales Throughout Q4

Research suggests that McDonald’s sales trends have actually improved throughout the fourth quarter. While concerns about same-store sales persist, the positive trend in recent months may alleviate some of these worries.

Year-Over-Year Growth

Despite expectations of a slowdown, McDonald’s has consistently beaten same-store sales expectations in the past 11 quarters. While growth may not be as robust as in previous years, there is still potential for positive year-over-year growth.

Previous Sales Expectations

In the third quarter, McDonald’s experienced a growth rate of 8.8% in same-store sales, which decreased to 5% in the fourth quarter. This is less than half the growth rate seen a year ago. However, McDonald’s has a track record of surpassing expectations, having beaten same-store sales expectations in 17 out of the past 20 quarters.

McDonalds stock rises to a record, brushing off investor worries about sales

Investor Sentiment and Valuation

Mixed Investor Sentiment

Investor sentiment towards McDonald’s is mixed, with concerns about sales and traffic growth in the coming year. However, there are positive factors that may mitigate these concerns and improve sentiment.

Reasonable Valuation

Based on historical price-to-earnings ratios, McDonald’s stock is reasonably valued. This, combined with the positive sales trends and potential for growth, makes the stock an attractive investment opportunity.

Upcoming Earnings Report

Expected Reporting Date

McDonald’s is expected to report its fourth-quarter results in early February. This report will provide valuable insights into the company’s performance and may have an impact on investor sentiment.

Consensus for Same-Store Sales

The FactSet consensus for McDonald’s same-store sales growth in the fourth quarter is 5%, lower than the growth rates seen in previous quarters. However, given McDonald’s track record of exceeding expectations, there is a possibility that the actual growth rate may surpass this consensus.

Positive Factors for McDonald’s

Growth in Number of Restaurants

McDonald’s has seen a growth rate of 4% to 5% in the number of restaurants, which is a positive indicator of expansion. This growth has been fueled by significant investments made by the company to improve the productivity of new stores.

Productivity of New Stores

The investments made by McDonald’s in the past decade have resulted in improved productivity in new stores. The return on investment for new units is now more favorable than it has been in over 10 years, indicating a positive outlook for the company’s profitability.


Return on Investment

The favorable return on investment for new McDonald’s stores is a promising factor for investors. The company’s focus on improving productivity and expanding its footprint may result in increased profitability and shareholder value.

Comparison with Competitors

Performance of Restaurant Brands International Inc.

Restaurant Brands International Inc., the parent company of Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, has seen a modest increase in stock prices. However, McDonald’s has outperformed its competitor in terms of stock performance.

Performance of Jack in the Box Inc.

Jack in the Box Inc. has experienced a decline in stock prices, signaling a challenging market environment for fast-food chains. McDonald’s ability to sustain positive performance in the face of market challenges sets it apart from its competitors.

Impact on Dow Jones Industrial Average

McDonald’s Stock as Component of Dow Jones

McDonald’s is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), which has also experienced a surge in stock prices. The strong performance of McDonald’s stock contributes to the overall positive sentiment in the market.

Record Close of DJIA

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has reached a record high, reflecting the overall positive market sentiment. McDonald’s stock performance has contributed to this record close, highlighting its significance as a major player in the market.


Despite initial concerns from investors about declining sales, McDonald’s stock has reached a record high. The positive sales trends, reasonable valuation, and growth potential indicate a favorable outlook for the stock. While challenges in the fast-food industry persist, McDonald’s ability to outperform its competitors and contribute to the record close of the DJIA positions it as a strong investment opportunity.

About the Author

Tomi Kilgore

Tomi Kilgore is the deputy investing and corporate news editor at MarketWatch and is based in New York. He has extensive experience in analyzing market trends and providing insights into investment opportunities. With a deep understanding of the fast-food industry, Kilgore offers valuable expertise in assessing the performance of companies like McDonald’s. Follow him on Twitter @TomiKilgore.


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