What happened

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) stock has barely kept pace with the market through mid-August, with shares up about 6% compared to a 5% increase in the S&P 500.

That's a better result than many rival fast-food giants such as Taco Bell owner Yum Brands, and Restaurant Brands International, the owner of the Burger King franchise. But McDonald's is lagging other peers including Chipotle and Domino's, which are both up over 30% so far in 2020.

Friends sharing a fast-food meal.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors weren't excited to learn in late June that McDonald's sales are still shrinking in the core U.S. market. While some of its peers -- notably Chipotle -- raced back to growth, the fast-food specialist is seeing persistent demand pressure in the breakfast hours as consumers continue to work more from home and avoid traditionally high-volume places in metropolitan areas. This aspect of the pandemic has also hurt Starbucks' business, which is still several months from returning to growth, management said.

Now what

McDonald's is planning a huge marketing push in the second half of 2020 that CEO Chris Kempczinski thinks could convince more people to return to its restaurants. In the meantime, the chain is planning to lean on its robust drive-thru network to fend off rivals during the tough industry conditions ahead.

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