Shares of McDonald's fall after the fast food chain warns that sales and earnings will be "challenged" in the second half of the year.

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McDonald's: Investors not loving it

July 22, 2013: 2:12 PM ET

McDonald's says results will be "challenged."

You know times must be tough when McDonald's says consumers are struggling. But are diners really too stretched for the Dollar Menu, or is there something else going on?

The fast food giant said Monday that global sales and earnings rose in the second quarter, though profits fell short of analysts' expectations.

McDonald's warned that sales will be "relatively flat" in July and that results will be "challenged" in the second half of the year.

The fast food market "remains challenging and economic uncertainty is pressuring consumer spending," said McDonald's CEO Don Thompson.

Shares of McDonald's (MCD) were down nearly 3% in afternoon trading.

Related: The real budgets of McDonald's workers

McDonald's tends to thrive in a down economy, so it seems strange that the company would blame "economic uncertainty" for its poor performance. U.S. same store sales, a key metric of a retailer's health, rose 1% in the quarter. Sales fell in Europe, and were weak in China, Australia and Japan.

While the U.S. economy has been growing at a sluggish pace, consumer sentiment has actually improved in recent months, suggesting that there may be other reasons behind the weakness in McDonald's numbers.

Investors on StockTwits had a few theories.

$MCD misses on everything including U.S sales growth. $CMG guess people are starting to get more health conscious than cost conscious

Please, can we leave Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) out of this? Some of us might be going there for lunch.

$WFM looking strong today. Earnings next week. Bullish on healthy eating. Sorry $MCD we don't need your garbage

On second thought, maybe Whole Foods (WFM) for lunch sounds good.

$MCD any chance folks finally realize this stuff will kill you? Throw the dip and the nugget away now.

Despite questions about the nutritional value of its food, McDonald's still pays a healthy dividend.

$MCD down on earnings miss. That means this great dividend stock is on sale. Under 100 Ima buyer

For some investors, the weaker-than-expected results shows that McDonald's has simply run out of innovative ideas to whet consumers' appetites.

$MCD Quick, let's bring Monopoly back! It's already back?! Uhhhh......McRib?!

McDonald's running out of ideas? Maybe they can start distributing shares in happy meals $MCD

Another theory suggests McDonald's is struggling with more fundamental challenges.

$MCD always blames poor SSS on economic about poor pricing or menu items or competition?

That's back to the innovation question. But others see a broader trend in McDonald's numbers, which came after disappointing results from another big consumer staples company.

The misses by both McDonalds and Coca-Cola shows stimulus is only working for wealthy and Wall Street $MCD

Coca-Cola reported earnings last week that met expectations but revenue fell short, and investors bailed.

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Ben Rooney
Ben Rooney
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Ben Rooney is a staff writer for CNNMoney. He covers the European debt crisis and other international finance stories, in addition to writing about stocks, bonds, investing and other Wall Street-related news. Follow Ben on Twitter: @ben_rooney

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