Home > Market Commentary > McDonald’s (MCD) Is Looking a Little Overvalued

McDonald’s (MCD) Is Looking a Little Overvalued

by Rob Weigand

I’m thinking of a stock that’s beaten the S&P 500 by over 300% in the last 6 years and by 70% in the past 6 months (see charts below) . . . 

mcd-spx-6-yrs1

. . . and, it’s accomplished this heady feat with an average 5-year compound growth rate of 7%, an average return on capital of 12%, average operating margins of under 20%, and modest growth in free cash flow. Yes, that’s MCD I’m talking about, whose admirable run is starting to look a little tired.

mcd-spx-15-yrs

I modeled MCD’s value using the following assumptions: 1.) an average 5-year growth rate of 7% tapering to 5.5% over the following 5 years, and a long-term growth rate of 5.0%; 2.) a moderate reduction in its SG&A/Sales ratio from 10.7% (historical average) to 10.0%; 3.) slightly lower marginal tax rate of 30% (historical average 32%); 4.) long-term dividend growth of 6.0%; 5.) lower Cash/Sales of 8.0% (historical average 10.0%); 6.) and a gradual decline in its PPE/Sales ratio from 92% to 86% over the next 10 years (a generous assumption). At a weighted average cost of capital of 9.5%, MCD’s 2009 intrinsic value from a discounted cash flow model comes in right around $44 a share, vs. its January 12 closing price of $60. Re-running the model with 9.0% growth for 10 straight years and bringing down the PPE/Sales ratio several additional points, the intrinsic stock price perks up — but only to $53 a share. Additionally . . . 

Insiders love to sell this stock. Cumulative insider selling (data provided by Thomson/Reuters) for the past 4 years is shown below. Insiders have cashed out of their positions to the tune of over $160 million over this time frame. There’s no evidence of any insider accumulation in the past 4 years. The selling is broad-based as well; it’s not just one or two big sellers.

mcd-insider-selling

Short interest in MCD has eased off recently:

mcd-short-interest1

But short selling has been off all year; considering this year’s light market volume, MCD’s Days to Cover Ratio is higher than it’s been since 2004, suggesting this overvaluation story may be gaining some traction:

mcd-days-to-cover1

MCD also sells at a premium Price/Sales ratio vs. competitors such as Yum Brands:

mcd-p-s-vs-yum

Although their Price/Earnings ratios are comparable:

mcd-p-e-vs-yum1

One major caveat: This is not a short-sale recommendation. Given investors’ overall fearfulness these days, I have no compelling thesis suggesting MCD should fall sharply in value in the next few months. This is the type of stock investors have been crowding into, which is probably how it’s become modestly overvalued. For current shareholders, however, MCD seems like a prime candidate for writing covered calls. June 2009 calls with a strike price of $65 closed at an ask price of $3.20 today. Collecting that premium yields another 5% in the next 6 months — not bad in this market — plus another 8.3% return if your shares are called.

You can find Rob Weigand on the web or send him an email at profweigand@yahoo.com.

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Categories: Market Commentary
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  1. September 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm

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