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The Dow's Record Run Continues, but Can Coca-Cola and McDonald's Grow?

The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) managed to find a way to keep its winning streak alive, bouncing back from early losses to finish with a gain of just under three points on Tuesday. The broader market was equally noncommittal, as the tug of war between bullish and bearish investors continued. Yet even as the Dow has rocketed higher, shareholders of Dow components Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) remain troubled by the pressures both of them face in trying to drive growth.

Source: McDonald's.

McDonald's fell half a percent today, remaining trapped within the relatively narrow range in which its stock has traded since the beginning of 2012. Yesterday's report on May same-store sales for the fast-food restaurant chain was mixed, with global growth of 0.9% but U.S. comps falling once again. Given that last year's international results were adversely affected by avian-flu problems in China, easy comparisons should have given McDonald's more room to grow. Instead, all of McDonald's efforts to try to spur growth, including an expanded Dollar Menu, a premium burger offering, and even promotional efforts to drive breakfast customers in the doors, haven't been able to turn around the fast-food giant's fortunes. Until McDonald's can reestablish its growth trajectory, especially abroad, it'll be tough for its stock to move higher.

Coca-Cola managed to pick up 0.4% today, but a mixed analyst report repeated some of the same issues that investors in the soft-drink behemoth have had for a long time. On one hand, Coca-Cola's brand is world-renowned, and with the World Cup giving Coca-Cola yet another opportunity to portray its products in a positive light on the globe's biggest stages, the beverage giant could get at least a brief pop in sales. Yet Coca-Cola still needs to work on diversifying beyond its core namesake carbonated soft drinks to tap the prevailing trends toward water, sports drinks, and other non-carbonated beverages. Otherwise, Coca-Cola runs the risk of getting left behind in the competitive rush.

Of course, both Coca-Cola and McDonald's have survived tough times in the past, and it's far too early to conclude that they no longer make sense as long-term investments. Yet with the Dow Jones Industrials at record highs, it's always concerning to see certain stocks failing to participate fully. Until McDonald's and Coca-Cola can re-establish their ability to recast themselves as growth candidates and give investors the results they crave, it'll be tough to see their stock prices rising substantially further.

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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Related Tickers

9/1/2015 4:35 PM
^DJI $16058.35 Down -469.68 -2.84%
KO $38.75 Down -0.57 -1.45%
Coca-Cola CAPS Rating: ****
MCD $93.47 Down -1.55 -1.63%
McDonald's CAPS Rating: ***