5 Startling Things About McDonald's Corporation

Everybody knows the basics about McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) . The fast-food giant sports a $101 billion market cap and $28 billion in annual sales. The company has been a Dow Jones (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) component since 1985. The stock has absolutely trounced its Dow peers since joining the index. The painted face of corporate mascot Ronald McDonald has either comforted or terrified billions of children across the globe, being one of the most recognizable characters in the history of everything.

MCD Chart

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That being said, some Mickey D facts are not so well known. Here's a handful of the most striking, surprising, or even shocking McDonald's morsels you probably never consumed before.

  • McDonalds is beyond huge, with 35,000 locations in over 100 countries. It's nearly twice the size of Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) , and collects more than three times the coffee chain's annual revenue. The company is as ubiquitous as oxygen and running water. But here's the potential shocker: McDonald's is not the undisputed king of fast food. That honor goes to privately held Subway, which sports 41,300 global sandwich shops. And the gap is only growing: Subway added 2,700 new locations in 2013, compared to McDonald's 949 new restaurants. For those keeping score at home, Starbucks expanded by 1,701 locations.

  • You may have heard rumors of McDonald's using icky not-quite-meat ingredients in its burgers and McNuggets. These claims pop up once in a while and are, for the most part, outright hoaxes. The company promises that its nuggets are made from perfectly normal white-meat chicken breast; alternative protein sources may be the future, but worm meat is still more expensive than high-volume orders of USDA-inspected beef. The exception? McDonald's did use ammonia-treated beef filler, popularly known as "pink slime," until 2011.

  • In 1996, a widely quoted study said that more than 12% of all Americans had, at some point, worked at McDonald's. That figure has surely increased over the last 18 years: Annual employee turnover is above 100% system-wide (including workers in franchisee locations), and the global workforce has also more than tripled since 1996.

  • Welcome to McDonald's -- unless you're a reporter with question for the 2014 shareholder meeting.

    Here's the latest and, to my mind, the largest McDonald's puzzler. The company will hold its annual shareholders' meeting on Thursday. The most controversial item on the meeting's agenda is a bog-standard shareholder request to let stockowners take action by written consent. Passing this proposal would strengthen McDonalds' corporate governance. Pass or fail, nothing on this proxy card seems likely to seriously affect the stock's value in the long or short term.

    Yet McDonald's has decided to lock media coverage out of the meeting. According to company spokespeople, reporters aren't welcome because they haven't shown enough interest in the meeting -- and besides, limiting the press to the same view-only webcast as everybody else will "level the playing field" for media outlets outside Chicago. Travel budgets ain't what they used to be, you know.

    Analysts disagree, arguing that the company is trying to control its brand message by limiting press coverage of this shareholder event. Hat tip to Business Insider for spilling these beans at the last minute, or you might never have heard this news at all.

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