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McDonald's Needs to Improve on Its 'Super' Message

Tickers in this article: BUD MCD

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you look at the top 10 favorite ads among viewers during the Super Bowl you won't see McDonald's on that list.

At this year's most important American football championship game, the cost of these TV ads was somewhere around $4 million for a 30-second piece. McDonald's joined the battle to grab the attention of the masses but, alas, the ad didn't even make the top 12 list of ads that were watched online or on TV when it comes to the number of views. It didn't do enough to make viewers "feel good."

You could say the company is having the same problem when it comes to its menu -- which even the company's chief operating officer admitted has become too complicated -- and its shares.

Shares of MCD closed Monday 1.2% lower at $93, off about 4% for the year to date. MCD shares are close to the bottom of its narrow 52-week range of $92.87, compared to a high of $103.70. Having reported flat earnings per share and revenue Jan. 30, the stock seems to be mirroring the same-store sales that have declined for two quarters in a row.

Let's look at a five-year price chart of this top-tier fast-food empire that comprises about 35,000 stores globally. I'll include in the chart some very important financial metrics that tell a good part of the story.

MCD ChartMCD data by YCharts

From the viewpoint of a shareholder, the last five years the stock has nearly doubled, powered by both the growth in its trailing 12-month (TTM) free cash flow and a higher-moving quarterly revenue-per-share performance (red line above). We pay our respects to CEO Don Thompson and his team, who took over the leadership of MCD in the middle of 2012, for trying many innovations to keep the strong sales growth and stock price momentum going that their predecessors forged during the prior eight years.