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McDonald's Q1 earnings: what investors need to know


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Upcoming McDonald's earnings on April 30th could signal key shifts in market dynamics, with investors eyeing potential impacts of inflation, geopolitical concerns, and competitive challenges.

 

GT_USD_18-04-24.jpgSource: Getty

 

Written by: Monte Safieddine | Market analyst, Dubai
 
Publication date: 

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If you're craving a Big Mac on Tuesday, April 30, it might be because that's when McDonald's Corporation is expected to release its figures for the first quarter of this year.

A snapshot of last quarter's performance

Hopes are it won’t be mixed results as we saw in the final quarter of last year where it outperformed on earnings per share at $2.95 versus $2.82 forecasts but suffered a slight miss on revenue at $6.41 billion instead of the $6.45 billion expectations.

McDonald's and the changing tides of fast-food consumption

In the past, it was a story of snatching market share from pricier chains when the cost of living rose significantly, but it has since begun to impact even fast-food companies. Polling from Revenue Management Solutions back in February painted a picture of low-income consumers cutting back on fast food, and at times avoiding it altogether, instead of merely reducing consumption at the franchise. That has meant concern over receiving less from budget-conscious consumers, and pushing more into that camp where previously it had been more about tastes and preferences.

Inflation has generally been moderating, but slight panic is resurfacing once more that controlling it in the next phase will be a more challenging task. And focusing on the state of California, prices are expected to be higher for the current quarter after the minimum wage increase to $20 at the start of this quarter, as leaders in the industry said they’d adapt to incorporate the higher costs, even if for some it’ll be up to their respective franchisees.

McDonald's ambitious leap towards 50,000 restaurants

Higher costs in general will be observed and not just in the Golden State. There's also how it's faring on its expansion plans to reach 50,000 with the majority of capital expenditures on opening new restaurants, whether in the US or abroad, any update on evaluating its spinoff CosMc's, and the tie-in with Krispy Kreme going nationwide that benefited the doughnut maker’s share price significantly when it was announced, with little effect on McDonald’s share price. Those in the food industry have always sought further clarity regarding the impact of weight loss drugs, given the intent is on reducing appetite and feeling full for a longer period.

Geopolitical concerns and revenue impact

Then there’s the geopolitical angle. The ongoing boycott in the Middle East and its impact on sales in the final quarter of last year, and not just in the region but in other countries as well. It’s expected to have “a negative impact…as long as the war continues,” according to its regulatory filing back in February, which resulted in the announcement earlier this month about acquiring all of its Israeli franchise restaurants.

For now, reliance will remain high on its core regions where the US is well on top by a big margin followed by Japan and China, and the extent to which the slower start to the year on weather woes can play a larger role in reducing customer traffic.

How does McDonald's stack up against Chipotle and Domino’s Pizza?

Looking at the competition, there have been stellar gains over the past year for Shake Shack's share price (up over 70%), Chipotle (nearly 60%), and Domino's Pizza (by over 40%), while McDonald’s is down by 7%. That means while its established brand and strong balance sheet might have been a plus when investors became defensive preventing its share price from falling too heavily when the AdvisorShares Restaurant ETF was in retreat, it hasn’t been able to come close to matching the rest of the industry when they are enjoying double-digit percentage gains.

 

original-size.webpSource: Getty

McDonald’s forecasts from Q1 results

In all, expectations this time around are for an earnings per share of $2.72, higher than the same period last year at $2.63 but quarter-on-quarter experiencing another consecutive drop, and an estimate that has been revised higher recently. Revenue is expected at around $6.2 billion, above 2023's Q1 $5.9 billion but below the three quarters that followed. Gross profit margin is anticipated to improve, and there's also the potential for a small dividend hike (source: LSEG).

As for recommendations, the majority remain in the 'buy' category, with none opting for an 'underperform' or 'sell'. Eight analysts are advancing into 'strong buy' territory, 19 are opting for a 'buy', and eleven suggest a 'hold'. Regarding their price targets, the average among them of $324 is above the current share price (source: LSEG).

Trading McDonald’s Q1 results: technical overview and trading strategies

Examining the weekly chart and dissecting the primary technical indicators individually reveals the price positioned below most of its main weekly moving averages, close to the lower end of the weekly Bollinger Bands. The DMI (Directional Movement Index) is negative, with a considerable margin between the DI- over the DI+, and the RSI (Relative Strength Index) indicator still not reaching oversold territory. Additionally, the ADX (Average Directional Movement Index) is below the ranges indicative of trending movements. The daily timeframe indicates a deteriorating technical outlook.

Given this analysis, it's understandable why determining a technical overview in these circumstances becomes more complex for the long-term weekly perspective, whereas, for the daily perspective, a 'bear average' appears more apparent. For those predicting the persistence of this overview (and its bear channel), selling strategies may be considered, whether through a significant reversal from the weekly 1st Resistance or a breakout from the first Support. The increased volatility in this current phase, triggered by the upcoming fundamental release, could necessitate adjustment to strategies, perhaps shifting focus to secondary levels depending on how significantly the results diverge from expectations.

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

McDonalds weekly chart with key technical indicators

 

original-size.webpSource: TradingView

IG Client sentiment* and short interest for McDonald’s shares

When it comes to sentiment amongst retail traders (image below), the bias has been extreme buy and has risen over the past two weeks to 91% as of this morning from 80% prior. Short interest on the exchange was somewhat rangebound for a few years and beneath 1% of shares float, but over the past two quarters has started trending higher with the latest print at over 8 million representing 1.12% of shares float (source: LSEG).

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

 

  • *The percentage of IG client accounts with positions in this market that are currently long or short. Calculated to the nearest 1%, as of today morning 8am for the outer circle. Inner circle is from April 2, 2024.

 

 

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Australia Pty Ltd. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients.

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