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Investment Overview for McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)
Top Line Adversely Impacted As McDonald's Refranchises
McDonald's revenues suffered a decline in the three months ended December. However, the softening was expected primarily due to two reasons. Firstly, due to the impact of refranchising, which resulted in the company-operated sales to be increasingly replaced by franchised revenues in the form of rent and royalty, based on a percentage of sales. Secondly, due to the timing of overlap with the launch of All Day Breakfast in October 2015.
Downtrend In Comparable Sales Continues
The downtrend being seen in comps didn't help the revenues. Throughout the year, McDonald's comparable sales growth has been far from encouraging. There is a very evident downtrend in its comps, owing mainly to the weakness in the industry and partially to the lack of traction for the company's main turnaround driver: All Day Breakfast. The fourth quarter saw comparable sales growth down to 2.7% y-o-y. Moreover, in the U.S., the comps went into negative territory, at -1.3% y-o-y. One bright spot was its operations in Japan, which is classified as a market under Foundational Markets & Corporate, which continued to perform well, bringing up the comps of the segment to 11% y-o-y. China, too, had a strong quarter with comparable sales of 7.9% y-o-y, bringing the comps for High Growth Markets to 4.7% y-o-y in Q4'16. In contrast, France and Germany, a part of International Lead Markets, continued to be a drag on the company's operations.
Showcasing The "Healthiness" Of Its Food
Post the transition of its 16,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada to cage-free eggs, the company has launched a new YouTube video series called "What's Cooking?" The initiative will showcase the preparation behind some of its most popular food items, to re-instill the health factor, in line with preferences of the millennial consumer. Other initiatives undertaken are shifting from margarine to butter, piloting fresh patties, and removing preservatives from some of its food items. The video series can help change the perception among its customers, by showcasing both the origin and preparation of its food and the healthier changes made in its menu in recent months.
Below are key drivers of McDonald's value that present opportunities for upside or downside to the current Trefis price estimate:
Franchisee Rent & Fees
Average Spend per Customer Visit at McDonald's Franchised Restaurant: Historically, the Average Spend per Customer (ASC) has increased at a rate of 3-4% per year. In 2015, it was $3.38 and in 2016, it grew to $3.57. Going forward, we expect it to grow to $3.67 by end of 2023. However, McDonald's has been pushing hard to improve its brand image by refurbishing restaurants and introducing free Wi-Fi. The company is also extending its McCafe brand (which report higher revenues on average) to more and more restaurants. Should the figure increase to $4.00 by the end of our forecast period, we could see a 8% upside to the Trefis price estimates. At the same time, McDonald's is opening new outlets mostly in developing countries, which usually witness a lower ASC, primarily due to purchasing power disparity. There could be a 17% downside if the ASC drops to $3.00 by the end of our forecast period.
Annual Customers per McDonald's Restaurant: Historically, the number of annual customers had been increasing till 2011, at a rate of 4-5%. However, in 2012, the figure witnessed a decline from 740,600 in 2011, to 730,400 in 2012. The trend continued in 2013, as the figure further declined to 721,000. The figure dropped 6.3% to 675,700 in 2014 and further 3.7% down to 650,700 in 2015. In 2016, too, the number declined. The decline was primarily due to the tough competition from fast-casual restaurants, especially Chipotle Mexican Grill, as well as the shift in dining preferences due to health concerns related to fast food. Apart from stiff competition by the fast casual segment, the company witnessed a drop in customer traffic in Asian countries. Trefis estimates the annual customer count to remain stable around the current value for 2017 and gradually increase thereafter. If the health concerns reduce the customers to McDonald's, and the annual customer count drops to 500,000 by the end of our forecast period, we could see a 19% downside to the Trefis price estimate. At the same time, if the company manages to sustain or even improve the customer traffic by implementing strategies to introduce organic food items, and the figure reaches 710,000 by the end of our forecast period, we could see a 17% upside to the Trefis price estimate.
McDonald's owns and franchises its restaurants all over the world. As of March 31, 2016, the company had 36,467 restaurants in 120 countries, of which 30,197 were operated by franchisees and 6,270 were operated by the company.
McDonald’s essentially offers a uniform menu, though with minor variations to suit the local taste. A typical McDonald’s menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, snacks, breakfast sandwiches (McMuffins), beverages (soft drinks, coffee, milk shakes, juices), and desserts (ice cream, pies, smoothies).
McDonald's competes primarily with Wendy's and Burger King in the hamburger fast food category. However, in the overall fast food industry, McDonald's is the market leader with 22% market share followed by Yum! Brands and Subway.
We believe that Franchisee Rent & Fees is more valuable than Franchisee Royalties and Company Operated divisions due to the following reasons:
Rent & fees income is two times more than franchisee royalties income
Both the Franchisee Rent & Fees and Franchisee Royalties divisions represent the two different channels of revenue contribution from McDonald's franchised restaurants. McDonald's operates three kind of franchised restaurants (conventional, developmental, and affiliated) and charges them royalty, rental, and initial setup fees. While royalty is charged to all franchised restaurants, rental and initial set up fees are paid by only conventional franchises.
Rent & fees charged as a percentage of sales is approximately two times greater than the royalty percentage charged to franchisees. This makes the Franchisee Rent & Fees division nearly twice as valuable as the Franchisee Royalties division.
Franchises profit margin is 4x that of company operated restaurants
Company-operated restaurants are low margin businesses (~20% operating margin) as compared to franchised restaurants (~80% operating margin). The difference in margins is mainly because of the extra costs involved with company-operated restaurants, such as employees and operational costs, which are absent for franchised restaurants. This is the primary reason why McDonald's and other chains prefer the franchise model despite lower revenues.
Number of franchised stores is nearly four times the number of company operated restaurants
Compared to 6,270 restaurants self-operated by McDonald's, 30,197 restaurants were operated by franchisees globally. Going forward, we expect the company operated stores to increase very slightly as McDonald's re-franchises them.
McCafe gives McDonald's a strong presence in the specialty coffee segment
McCafe represents McDonald's foray into the high-margin caffeinated beverages market dominated by premium coffee chain Starbucks. McDonald's has been able to keep the prices competitive and margins healthy due to its excellent store network, its marketing muscle, and a highly efficient supply chain. McCafe's menu has been extended to more than coffee and now includes fruit smoothies, mocha, and chocolate shakes.
Competition among the top fast food chains to intensify in the breakfast segment
The breakfast market is proving to be a profitable segment especially in the U.S. McDonald's is the dominant player in the breakfast segment with a market share of over 30%. McDonald's ensures new items are added to the breakfast menu regularly. However, it now faces serious competition as a number of rivals such as Dunkin' Brands, Restaurant Brands International, Taco Bell, and Starbucks have stepped up their game in the breakfast segment. Starbucks is in the process of reinvigorating its breakfast menu with the help of baked goodies launched under the La Boulange brand. Restaurant Brands International houses two well renowned brands: Burger King and Tim Hortons, both of which are already a strong presence in the breakfast market. Dunkin' Donuts has also revamped its breakfast menu to cater to the needs of its customers.
Company announces turnaround plan including worldwide business restructuring
On May 4, 2015, the company's new CEO Steve Easterbrook announced initial steps of McDonald's turnaround plan. It was mentioned that beginning July 1, the company will operate under a new organizational structure with four market segments: U.S., International lead markets, High-growth markets, and Foundational markets. Apart from this, new refranchising targets and financial updates were announced.
How Does Trefis Modelling Work?
How do we get the historical numbers for this chart?
Trefis has a team of in-house Analysts who gather historical data from company filings and other verifiable sources. When historicals are available, we explain how we got them at the bottom of the Trefis analysis section below.
Who came up with the Trefis forecast for future years?
The Trefis team of in-house Analysts considers a variety of factors when projecting any forecast. The rationale for our projections is explained in the Trefis analysis section below.
How does my dragging the trendline on the chart impact the stock price?
- We use forecasts for business drivers to calculate forecasted Revenues and Profits for each division of the company.
- We then use forecasted Profits in a Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model to obtain the Price Estimate for the company.
See more on: DCF Methodology
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