The Exchange

That Was Fast: McDonald’s Analyst Goes Back to Buy Rating

The Exchange

McDonald's (MCD) has been running a little short on positive news lately, but it got some Friday when a research analyst reversed his opinion and put a buy rating back on the stock while simultaneously assigning it one of the highest price targets on Wall Street.

Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Mark Kalinowski upgraded the home of the Big Mac to buy from neutral and gave the company a $104 price target, up $8 from his prior target, according to FactSet data. The analyst is having a change of heart in fairly short order, after downgrading the burger seller from buy at the end of September -- only a little more than two months ago.

Prior to Janney's decision to put McDonald's back in the buy column, the last significant action on the stock was just after Thanksgiving, when Lazard Capital Markets analyst Matthew DiFrisco cut his rating on the shares to neutral from buy.

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McDonald's Stock Chart

With the latest upgrade, Janney's got a target that's the second-highest among the analysts who follow Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's. The top is $105, and another of the company's analysts has a $104 target. The average opinion on what the stock is worth is $96.83.

McDonald's hit its all-time high above $102 in January, marking the peak in a good run for the shares over the past few years. But recent months haven't been as upbeat under the golden arches. When Lazard cut its rating on Nov. 26, the stock was showing a 12.5% decline year-to-date, making it the third-worst performer among the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

However, the shares have rallied modestly since closing at $85.47 that day. They ended the previous session Thursday at $88.09, equating to a gain of 3% in two weeks, so that's not a bad uptick. The latest opinion helped the stock add another 0.8% to $88.82 in early trading.

Worries about competition from direct competitors Burger King (BKW) and Wendy's (WEN), as well as other chains like former underling Chipotle (CMG), and disappointing same-store sales have weighed on McDonald's shares in recent months. In October, restaurant same-store sales fell 1.8%, the first negative number it had recorded since 2003. Shortly thereafter, U.S. president Jan Fields, a long-time McDonald's hand, was gone.

But even with the shorter-term setbacks mentioned here, long-time shareholders are still in pretty good shape, with the stock up 44% in the past five years and 408% in the last 10, Yahoo! Finance data show. McDonald's also pays a dividend that currently yields 3.5%.

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