Don’t Give Up on McDonald’s, Think Longer Term

TheStreet.com, Spring, 2012. This article was written with Oliver Pursche, the Co-Portfolio Manager of the GMG Defensive Beta Fund. It was part of a series of articles developed under an agreement with thestreet.com to work with a variety of contributors and assist them in delivering actionable investment ideas each week.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Remember when you would get a cut on your hand and your parents would inevitably say, if this is the worst pain you ever feel, consider yourself lucky? Well that’s how I feel about McDonald’s (MCD_) right now. McDonald’s April sales did not meet expectations — 3.3% vs. a 4% forecast — and the stock is under pressure.

First I feel like saying, “Come on people, it’s just one month.” Then I realize that all those people with a myopic view on a company’s performance are letting us buy the great MCD at a discount.

OK, so MCD promoted 20-piece chicken nuggets, when perhaps it should have emphasized nine-piece chicken nuggets. For this you want to sell?

Remember, this is an experienced, nimble management team that has delivered one of the best corporate performances in American history. Taken in a larger historical context, one month of sales means next to nothing.

Consider this: McDonald’s has raised its dividends for nine years in a row. In 2002, the dividend was 24 cents per share. Today it’s indicating $2.80 annualized, an increase of some 10 fold in as many years, for a compound annual growth rate of almost 28%.

For those who may have purchased MCD in January 2002 at $27.75, your yield is 10%. If you purchased the stock a little later when it bottomed out in January 2003 at $14.46, your MCD shares are yielding 19.4% and that’s not counting any growth in share price.

Of course past performance does not guarantee future results. But there’s a hedge in that old adage with respect to MCD. The management team is wide and deep. The folks who brought you such a spectacular performance are largely still there, slugging it out with the firm’s other fast food rivals day in and day out.

So the next time someone complains to you that old Mickey D’s has lost its edge, just smile, say nothing, and consider quietly scooping up the shares they sell. That’s what we’ve been doing and will continue to do.