4 Reasons McDonald's is Losing its Groove
NEW YORK (StreetAuthority) -- When it comes to fast-food stocks, one is head and shoulders above the rest. Certainly, nobody can touch it in terms of revenue, which, at $27.4 billion a year, is more than twice that of the closest competitor. The company's net profit margin of 20% is almost twice the industry average of 11%.I'm referring to McDonald's(MCD) , which I'm sure is no surprise. What may throw you for a loop, though, is that I think the stock can no longer deliver anything close to the 14% a year it posted during the past half-decade. So if you're looking for stocks with the potential to really trounce the market, then you might want to look elsewhere. Considering how popular McDonald's is among individual and institutional investors, I understand my statements may come as something of a shock. However, there are several reasons I think McDonald's is about to fade. 1. Rapid deceleration in growth. Although sales have risen 8% annually during the past five years, and analysts see them continuing to expand at that pace in coming years, the bottom line is unlikely to cooperate as before. Indeed, analysts project earnings growth will decelerate to about 8.5% a year for the next three to five years -- a far cry from the 17.5% growth rate of the prior five years. This sort of pullback often befalls large companies that have matured and are set to enter a much slower growth phase. After all, McDonald's already has 33,500 restaurants in 119 countries, including some pretty remote locations including Samoa, Venezuela and the Republic of Macedonia. At this point in the company's history, rapid growth is increasingly unlikely. 2. Fierce competition. McDonald's faces this in abundance from direct rivals including Yum! Brands(YUM) -- which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and other brands --Wendy's(WEN) , Burger King and Jack in the Box(JACK) . While none of these four enterprises is a match for McDonald's individually, they have combined sales of about $20 billion a year. There's also a threat from fast-food alternatives such as Panera Bread(PNRA) , a mid-cap firm with annual revenue of $1.9 billion and, in my opinion, far more growth potential than McDonald's. These so-called "fast casual" restaurants are rapidly expanding, despite somewhat more expensive menus, because of a reputation for having a wider array of healthier, more wholesome food choices.