McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) was one of the business surprises of the COVID-19 pandemic, and not necessarily in a good way. While it was able to report comparable sales that eked out a 0.1% gain in the first quarter, it was only because January and February had been so strong. Comps fell off the table in March.

Longbow analyst Alton Stump said things weren't much better in April with same-store sales down 15%, but over the first three weeks of May they've improved to negative 5%, and he thinks the fast-food giant will rebound more quickly than its rivals.

He raised his price target for McDonald's to $210 from $197 per share.

McDonald's drive-thru lanes

Image source: Getty Images.

Driving shares higher

McDonald's will benefit, because it's centered around the drive-thru window, which generates about 70% of its business. While closing down the restaurants hurt, even opening them won't make such a big difference due to the social-distancing protocols needed to maintain safety.

That means the drive-thru window will continue to be key. Other chains realize this will be the new normal and are changing to accommodate it. Shake Shack, for example, said it will be knocking holes in its walls to allow for drive-thru or pickup.

What may be more important to McDonald's recovery is the rest of the economy reopening as breakfast accounts for 25% of sales and 40% of profits. It needs consumers leaving for work in the morning to truly prosper. said Stump told investors in a note that comps continued to "recover nicely," leading to his $210 target price. The stock last traded at that level in February before tumbling to as low as $124 per share. It has since bounced back and now trades at $186 as of this writing.

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