How to Beat Weak Same-Store Sales: Stop Reporting Them

Source: McDonald's Corporation
Is there a person out there who has never been told, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” In the corporate world that typically translates to, “Don’t say anything you’re not required to say.”

Bloomberg News reported Wednesday morning that a spokesperson for McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) said the company would not report same-store sales after May’s numbers are reported on June 8.

In January 2008, Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) stopped reporting monthly sales only to pick up the habit again in November, saying it wanted to “provide investors as much information and transparency as possible.” That lasted until January 2013 when Macy’s stopped posting monthly data again. Presumably information and transparency were no longer in demand from stockholders.

An analyst told Bloomberg Wednesday morning that McDonald’s monthly reporting “just lends itself to more volatility, and I think investors focus on short-term issues. It’s a good move. Quite honestly, it’s kind of long overdue.” Virtually none of McDonald’s competitors, including Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) or Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG), reports monthly sales.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) stopped reporting monthly sales in June of 2009 and by October of 2012, Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG), Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX), Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY), Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) and Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) had also quit disclosing monthly same-store sales. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) stopped reporting monthly sales last year.

The trend over the past half-dozen years or so is away from publishing same-store sales data, and now that McDonald’s hasn’t had anything positive to report for nearly a year, the burger chain has decided to report nothing at all. And it is unlikely that any analyst or investor will complain.

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