McDonald's Does It Again

You've got to love short memories. Remember at the end of January, when McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) shares tumbled because of its December comps? Judging by its performance in January, the Golden Arches haven't fallen yet.

January comps at McDonald's rose 5.7%, compared to a year-ago 4.9% increase. Though the U.S. market is trending weaker, with domestic comps rising only 1.9%, hungry consumers in Europe and the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa segments seem to be picking up the slack. Comps in those regions rose 8.2% and 7.8%, respectively. (Sweet, delicious foreign exposure!)

Many of McDonald's rivals are doing just fine, but they're hardly taking a bite out of McDonald's meaty momentum. Burger King (NYSE: BKC  ) and Sonic (Nasdaq: SONC  ) both beat analysts' targets in their most recent quarters, for example. On the other hand, Wendy's (NYSE: WEN  ) reported yet another quarter that left a lot to be desired (My Fellow Fool Rick Munarriz wondered whether Wendy's can really woo suitors).

McDonald's last quarterly report, which revealed the weak December comps, dropped its shares by 6% that day, prompting plenty of hand-wringing that the fast food giant might not be quite so recession-proof. Naturally, the stock's now trading higher than it was before that little burst of panic.

Worrying about recent price fluctuations is short-sighted, short-term thinking. If you're in stocks for the long haul, last month's freakout over Mickey D's should illustrate that occasional hiccups offer opportunities to buy in (or get more shares) at tempting prices.

Given McDonald's generally hot stock performance, I can hardly blame its shareholders for getting spooked by any hint of negative news. But the company's still executing very well, still leading an industry that offers value-priced meals to budget-conscious consumers, and still paying a current dividend yield of 2.8%. In short, McDonald's still strikes me as a solid stock idea for investors. Temporary panics like last month's comps calamity only make it more appetizing.


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