Dow Ends Flat as McDonald's Continues to Struggle

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Stocks ended flat on a light-trading day as investors took a breather after Friday's jobs report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) closed up five points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.2%. There was anxiety over a potential cutback on the Federal Reserve's $85 billion monthly bond-buying program. The market sentiment seems to be banking on a March taper, though recent strong economic data has stirred concern that it may come earlier than expected. The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee will hold its next meeting to determine monetary policy on December 17-18.

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) led Dow losers today, falling 1.1% after its same-store woes continued. For November, the Golden Arches said that revenue from U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months fell 0.8%, worse than expectations of a 0.3% gain. At a time when fast casual chains such as Chipotle have a rising influence over the quick-service restaurant, McDonald's has struggled to reenergize its sales trends, despite making a number of changes such as adapting its dollar menu, and introducing wings. Outside the U.S., comps were better, as they improved 1.9% in Europe, though that was offset by a 2.3% decline in the Asia-Pacific region.

Elsewhere, Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN  ) posted earnings after hours with its loss per share growing from $1.70 a year ago to $2.04. That was worse than estimates of $1.91. Meanwhile, revenue improved 7%, to $123.4 million, beating expectations of $121.2 million. The ski-mountain resort also maintained full-year EBITDA guidance, and shares were unchanged in after-hours trading. Analysts are expecting earnings per share of $1.27 for the year, giving the company a P/E of 60; however, with expansions through acquisition such as the Canyon ski area and other destinations in the Midwest, as well as the brand power of its marquee resorts, the company could soon grow into that pricy valuation.

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