McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) attracts a lot of institutional and retail investor interest. That's likely no surprise, given its position as a dominant $84 billion fast-food restaurant. What surprised me, though, was its status as the No. 16 most-owned stock by investment clubs, as measured in April by the folks at Better Investing. Because retail investors were high on the stock, it got me to thinking: What's the consensus sentiment view on McDonald's?

Turns out, the view is mixed. Let's have a look at a few of the key sentiment drivers.

1. Analyst opinion
Analysts like McDonald's. Data from Capital IQ captures their collective feeling:


Number of Analysts











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Sixteen analysts have either a "buy" rating or an "outperform" on the stock. Ten rate it a "hold," but not a single analyst has an "underperform" or "sell" call. For purposes of this exercise, we'll classify analyst sentiment as mostly bullish.

2. Insider buying
Next we'll look at insider buying and selling. Over the past year, McDonald's insiders have sold $67.8 million worth of their company stock. During the same time period, insiders didn't buy a single shares. (Data from Form4Oracle.)

It'd be nice to see more insider buying to balance out the selling, but it's important to remember that insiders sell stock for a whole host of reasons -- to pay for a house or tuition, to diversify assets, and so forth. Also, for a company with a more than $80 billion market cap, $67.8 million of net selling isn't at all that large in relative terms. For purposes of this exercise, we'll classify insider buying/selling as slightly bearish.

3. Guru buying
Next, we'll look at "guru" ownership of the stock, according to GuruFocus.

In the quarter ended March 31, six gurus traded McDonald's -- four buyers and two sellers. Among the buyers were George Soros and Ken Fisher; James Barrow was a seller. In the previous quarter, the picture was flipped: only two buyers versus four sellers.

For the overall picture, we'll classify guru sentiment as neutral.

4. Retail investor community sentiment
For retail investor community sentiment, I turn to Motley Fool CAPS, our proprietary stock rating system. CAPS generates ratings on a one- to five-star scale, with five stars as the highest ranking, indicating that the Fool community believes in a stock's future. McDonald's has a mostly bullish four-star rating.

5. Short-sellers
Next we'll look at whether short-sellers are circling the stock. There are 7.1 million McDonald's shares sold short, according to Capital IQ. As a percentage of shares outstanding, that's a short interest of 0.7%. That's not at all high, and so for determining sentiment, we'll classify the low short interest as bullish.

6. Does Buffett own it?
This is the "cherry on top" test, and in this case, it's a no: In the past, Berkshire Hathaway has owned shares of McDonald's, but it no longer does.

Adding it up
The consensus opinion on McDonald's is mixed. Analysts and the CAPS community like the stock, and in another bullish sign, short sellers are staying away. While small relative to the company's size, insiders have been net sellers, while gurus have been mixed in the past two quarters. The company also fails our cherry-on-top test -- Berkshire no longer owns shares.

Of course, you can't base an investment philosophy on who likes or dislikes the stock you own, and even a consensus bullish opinion can sometimes be a scary thing. Quoting Buffett: "A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."

The purpose of this series of articles isn't to make a definitive buy-or-sell call on McDonald's. Rather, by looking at a stock's sentiment, the goal is to help you place your own opinion of it in a broader context.

One final thing: If you want to keep tabs on McDonald's movements, and for more analysis on the company, make sure you add it to your watchlist.