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Why the Dow's 15th Record of 2014 Left Disney and McDonald's Behind

By Dan Caplinger – Jul 16, 2014 at 3:04PM

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Technology stocks helped lift the Dow to all-time record highs, but they couldn't pull every stock in the Dow 30 up with them.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI) set their 15th record of the year, rising more than 77 points on the back of Dow-component stocks in the technology sector. With signs that growth in mobile device continues to expand and even long-stagnant PC demand could finally have hit bottom and pick up for at least the remainder of the year, even some tech stocks that had lagged behind the more forward-looking companies in the sector have started to perform better. Their influence has helped push the Dow higher, but even today's record highs weren't enough to lift shares of Disney (DIS -1.83%) and McDonald's (MCD 0.63%).

Source: Disney.

For Disney, today's roughly 1% drop comes in the heels of a potential merger in the entertainment sector. Rival network 21st Century Fox made a mammoth $80 billion takeover bid for Time Warner, and although Time Warner rejected the deal, the move represented an attempt by Fox to create a large enough competitor to go up against Disney head-to-head. A merger between the two companies would give Fox a host of lucrative cable-network properties including HBO, and it would also combine two major movie studios, opening up synergy opportunities. Disney has thus far been able to hold off Fox's competitive forays against the entertainment giant, including its Fox Sports 1 channel designed to go up against Disney's ESPN. Moreover, with Disney having a deep bench of content franchises from Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm, Fox hopes to compete more effectively by joining forces with Time Warner. Despite initial rejection, Fox could well end up being a larger player in the industry, and that could create new challenges for Disney.

Source: McDonald's.

Meanwhile, McDonald's sank more than 1%. The fast-food giant has faced some big obstacles to growth lately, but the most recent sign of potential trouble comes from its own franchisees. According to a report from a stock analyst firm, McDonald's franchisees have never been more pessimistic about their future sales over the next six months than they are now, with more than a decade of data backing up the report's findings. Owners of McDonald's franchises argue that menus have gotten more complicated, causing ordering backups and requiring more training for workers than simpler menus would need. Moreover, franchisees aren't happy with McDonald's marketing, especially as certain promotional items have turned out to be flops and others require short-term changes. With the analyst expecting further declines in same-store sales for McDonald's for both June and July, the Dow's fast-food component isn't helping the overall market.

Even as the Dow sets records, you still have to look at the stocks that make up the Dow to understand their own trends. Often, you can learn as much or more from lagging stocks than you do from the companies leading the way higher.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's and Walt Disney and owns shares of Walt Disney. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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