How Times Change: When McDonald’s Is Loved More Than Starbucks

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It is no secret that the Dow and S&P 500 have hit new all-time highs. That being said, the stock market is a market of stocks rather than a market where every company is firing on all cylinders just because the indexes are high. The turnaround of McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) has been monumental, and a lion’s share of this may be coming at the expense of Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX).

What makes this view even more interesting is that this comes at the same time Howard Schultz is trying to step away from the daily chores of running the Starbucks castle. Starbucks has recently undergone menu changes, and it still has a problem trying to keep the e-order process from not being a mosh pit.

Starbucks closed down 9.2% at $54.00 on Friday based on its earnings. McDonald’s initially rose almost 5% to $159.07 after its earnings, but it closed at $155.85 at the end of the week.

Analysts have chased their price targets on McDonald’s up and up. Those same analysts generally are cutting expectations for Starbucks, and transitionary periods away from great CEOs can be rocky times for investors.

One issue that Starbucks has is that it will assume control of its joint venture of East China and will operate all of its stores in China. This is as its Teavana stores have noticed some pressure from ever lower mall traffic.

Also concern is that Starbucks is not rapidly adding more rewards members, because those rewards members are more likely to frequent Starbucks and buy more. Starbucks grew membership by 8% to 13.3 million people, which is the slowest growth rate seen.

Jefferies reiterated Starbucks as Buy with a $65 price target, noting that its relative value is solid at a time that the many moving pieces will require patience. Other analyst calls on Starbucks were seen as follows:

  • Wedbush maintained its Neutral rating but cut the target price to $57 from $60, noting that the remaining segments are unlikely to be sources of upside.
  • Stifel cut its rating to Hold from Buy with a $58 target price.
  • Guggenheim cut its rating to Neutral from Buy.
  • Morgan Stanley has an Overweight rating but it cut the price target from $71 to $68.
  • Credit Suisse maintained a Neutral rating and lowered its target to $56 from $57.

It was not that long ago that analysts were ridiculed if they did not have a Buy rating on Starbucks and a price target that forecast 15% to 20% gains ahead.

McDonald’s is still winning from the move to all-day breakfast and from other menu changes. What makes this recovery so impressive is that millennials and the younger generations were not exactly the biggest fans of McDonald’s. Here is how the analysts treated McDonald’s after its strong earnings:

  • RBC Capital Markets reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its price target to $175 from $170.
  • Barclays raised its target price from $164 to $173.
  • Morgan Stanley raised its target price from $150 to $162.
  • BMO Capital Markets raised its target price to $175 from $165.
  • Independent Research, which still has a Sell rating on the stock, raised its target to $118 from $113.
  • UBS raised its target price to $160 from $143.

The McDonald’s consensus analyst price target from Thomson Reuters is now closer to $170, compared with a $155.85 current share price. McDonald’s hit new all-time highs after earnings, and it also pays a 2.4% dividend yield.

The Starbucks consensus analyst target price was $66.92 ahead of earnings, but you can see that there were many target price cuts and that figure will be much lower in the coming week. Starbucks closed out the week at $54.00, in a 52-week range of $50.84 to $64.87. Starbucks has a dividend yield of 1.7%.

It just seems odd with McDonald’s doing very well and Starbucks in transition. Times are changing.