When the market tanks, that's when I'm looking for things to buy.
And at the top of my list today is McDonald's (MCD).
McDonald's fell today, and took the market with it, because of an "earnings miss" of 4%. The company said that per-store sales were down across the globe, in all markets, but if you took the impact of currency fluctuations out the earnings were a solid beat, $1.39/share.
The general market has been locked into a trading range for months, with the Dow having spent most of this year within 400 points of its current 12,600 level, and the S&P mostly within 40 points of its present 1,340 level. We had substantial early year gains in the averages, but things have flattened out, and for all the wailing from all sides, people claiming all is lost on down days and happy days on good days, we're basically going nowhere fast.
Some people think this is a bad thing. I think this is a good thing. Time heals all wounds, and there is a lot that must be healed in our economy. The big banks are still corrupt, our banking system still suffers from that corruption, and Angela Merkel comes off as a European version of Herbert Hoover, always doing the minimum possible, and her moderate progressivism coming off as regression.
Against this backdrop, McDonald's continues to grow. It has a steady profit margin of 20%, a steady operating margin of nearer to 30%. The balance shows as much cash as a typical quarter shows gross profit, so it can handle the shocks that a global company is heir to.
It's very tough to maintain a unitary brand image in a world with so many different types of diets. Right now it's having especially tough problems in India, which it's trying to address with price cuts. In other markets, like China and Japan, McDonald's is seen as a more upscale brand, as a highly desirable symbol of America, even if menus are tweaked to serve local tastes.
Richard Saintvilus of TheStreet was planning to look for more shares assuming a beat of the expected $1.38/share, which he didn't actually get. But remember - the dollar was strong this quarter. The dollar is going to weaken. And the benefit of that will go directly to McDonald's bottom line.
Yes, McDonald's is going to face some big inflation in raw materials costs over the next several months, because of the Midwest drought. But that will mean higher prices, more revenue, and since people have to eat somewhere it might also mean a market share improvement, as people dial-back to fast food from fancier fare to cope. After which margins should rise again.
No, I can't find a good excuse to not own McDonald's. Can you?
Additional disclosure: I bought 50 shares of MCD just before posting this.