McDonald’s (MCD), Sara Lee (SLE) And Wheat

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The price of wheat has gone up three-fold in ten months. For something that looks like a weed, that is an impressive run.

Since a large number of business from McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) to Sara Lee (NYSE: SLE) to Kraft (NYSE: KFT) have a lot of wheat-based products, inflation in the grain is hardly good news.

In many enterprises, the cost of commodities can be passed on to consumers. In a recession, that becomes somewhat more difficult. Who is willing to buy a $15 Big Mac or $20 box of cake mix? All the money that might go toward those items is already being spent on $4 a gallon gas.

Since the price of wheat is not going to drop, at least not any time soon, it is worth reconsidering investments in fast food chains like Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Burger King (NYSE: BKS). Supermarkets may see some margin hit as well.

Even prison stocks like Corrections Corp (NYSE: CXW) may be bothered. The cost of bread and water has just gone up.

Douglas A. McIntyre