Dropping $2.16 million to have an awkwardly one-sided lunch with Warren Buffett is one way to understand what's happening on Wall Street. Or you can crush a pint of Greek yogurt each morning to save some cash before reading about why the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) inched up 3 points Tuesday.
1. McDonald's sales fall for seventh straight month
There's nothing happy about this meal. At fast-food juggernaut McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , shares fell 0.5% Tuesday after slipping nearly 2% over the past month as same-store sales decreased 1% in May. That's their seventh straight monthly drop -- kind of like a McFlurry through your lower intestine.
Ronald ain't no clown -- he's trying to get creative. Back in October, McDonald's grew its Dollar Menu, added a new "premium" type of burger, and began offering free coffee to snag breakfast buyers. It's even maintained promotions for its core products (the Big Mac, Egg McMuffin, and McDonald's fries) that make up 40% of its sales. But the recipe isn't working.
The takeaway is that CEO Don Thompson knows customers are not lovin' it -- so he's instituting new "customer experience" changes that will "take time," like remodeling restaurants and adding Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, customers continue to flock to "fast-casual" brands like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chop't, Dig Inn, and Sweet Green, whose products are better for them anyway.
2. RadioShack stock falls as it runs out of cash
Is it the holiday season yet? With competitors like Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and AT&T, it's no big surprise that RadioShack (NYSE: RSH ) announced that earnings for its latest quarter featured a $98 million loss -- up from that not-so-hot $23 million loss last year.
There are 4,250 Shacks in the U.S., and the company wants to shut down over 1,000 locations to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, for legal reasons with its creditors, it can close only 200 right now. Forget about the doomed Shacks that will be shuttered because sales at stores open over one year dropped 14% in the quarter.
"Backup credit facilities" are held by nearly all big corporations. Like the credit card your parents gave you during college, they're "just for emergencies." So RadioShack used that credit line last quarter and is now feeling the wrath of shareholders. The stock fell 10% Monday as the woes of the conventional electronics store best known for Howie Long commercials only get worse.
They're running out of cash -- fast. Wall Street isn't only punishing the stock, but bondholders also worry about getting paid back for debt. RadioShack bonds that the company needs to pay back in five years are worth just 38.5 cents to the dollar right now. Investors of bonds and stocks are expecting very little from the underdog electronic retailer -- except bankruptcy.
3. Small-biz optimism hits six-year high
Congratulations, mom 'n' pop, because according to the National Federation of Independent Business, economic optimism among America's small business owners rose aggressively in May for the seconnd straight month -- the monthly survey's reading is now at its highest point since way back in September '07 (the peaceful pre-Justin Bieber era).
The takeaway is that these small businesses, from restaurants to laundromats to your friendly neighborhood bodega and its questionably fresh fruit, are reporting three keys to the recent positivity: easier access to credit, steadily increasing sales through 2014, and an ability to finally start hiring more workers. Attention, internship-less college students -- you now have no excuses.
As originally published on MarketSnacks.com
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