Well, so much for going green.

If you’re looking to pick up a salad the next time you go to McDonald’s  (MCD) , you’ll have to look somewhere else as the burger behemoth removed the veggie-inclined dish from its menus in 2020.

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“If people really want salads from McDonald’s, we will gladly relaunch salads,” said Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA, CNN reported, citing a June interview at The Wall Street Journal’s annual Global Food Forum. “But what our experience has proven is that’s not what the consumer’s looking for from McDonald’s.”

On the plus side, the company is temporarily bringing back its Smoky BLT Quarter Pounder with Cheese and its Smoky BLT Double Quarter Pounder.

It’s kind of like a fast-food version of “leave the gun, take the cannoli.” (For you fans of “The Godfather..”)

And while no shots are being fired — fingers crossed — McDonald’s and other companies in the quick service restaurant sector are duking it out for fewer consumer dollars.

Analysts discuss McDonald's same-store sales.

Analysts discuss McDonald’s same-store sales.

MCD CFO cites ‘street-fighting mentality’

Analysts at Bank of America Securities noted in their July 8 restaurant report that fast food “value wars” remain topical.

The investment firm noted that in mid-May McDonald’s said it planned to launch a $5 value meal, beginning June 25 for a limited time.

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Since that announcement, Wendy’s  (WEN) , Burger King, Jack in the Box  (JACK) , Starbucks  (SBUX)  and most recently, Taco Bell have all introduced (or in many cases reintroduced) value bundles, the firm said.

“The return to prominence of value competition has trained investor focus on the battle for share,” B of A said. “As diverging value perceptions drove share shifts among fast food and fast casual in [first-half 2024], we think investors are looking to market shares over time to find ‘winners and losers’ that may emerge from an increasingly promotional environment in fast food in” the second half.

McDonald’s Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden was straightforward when he spoke with analysts in April about the current combative environment.

“Clearly, everybody’s fighting for fewer consumers or consumers that are certainly visiting less frequently, and we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got that street-fighting mentality to win, irregardless of the context around us,” he said.

At that time McDonald’s reported adjusted first-quarter earnings of $2.70 per share, up from $2.45 per share a year earlier but short of analysts’ consensus forecast of $2.72.

Revenue totaled $6.17 billion, up 5% from a year ago and ahead of Wall Street’s call for $6.16 billion in sales.

Global same-store sales — those from stores that have been operating for at least one year — increased 1.9% in the quarter, missing the estimate of 2.1%.

“Consumers continue to be even more discriminating with every dollar that they spend as they faced elevated prices in their day-to-day spending, which is putting pressure on the [quick service restaurant] industry,” Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski said during the earnings call.

“It is worth noting that in Q1 industry traffic was flat to declining in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. And across almost all major markets industry traffic is slowing,” he added.

Borden said McDonald’s doesn’t typically give comparable-store-sales guidance, noting that “we talked about 2024 being a year where we felt [the] top line was going to moderate.”

Analysts focus on MCD’s same-store sales

“I think four months into the year, … what we can say is, clearly, 2024 isn’t going to be a typical year for the broader industry,” he said.

“I say that because we’re certainly seeing … that the macro headwinds have been more significant than I think we even anticipated coming into the year, and we continue to see those macro headwinds as we have started quarter two,” Borden added.

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McDonald’s is scheduled to report Q2 results on July 26 and same-store sales have been on the minds of several analysts who cover the company.

Last month, Loop Capital analysts affirmed a buy rating and $357 price target on McDonald’s, but they noted that its latest U.S. franchisee checks found that same-store-sales growth was tracking below expectations in the second quarter, according to The Fly.

The investment firm said that the company’s same-store sales were flat to up 0.5% to date in Q2 and were therefore tracking below its prior full-Q2 estimate for 2% growth as well as consensus at up 0.9%.

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Among the factors cited were McDonald’s lack of a lunch-dinner combo this quarter and the lapping of a highly successful Grimace Birthday Meal, which was introduced on June 12 of last year, Loop Capital added.

On July 2, Guggenheim analyst Gregory Francfort slashed the investment firm’s price target on McDonald’s to $280 from $315 while maintaining a buy rating on the shares. The firm removed its Best Idea designation from the stock, as it cut its second-quarter same-store-sales-growth estimate to 0.2%.

“Whether comps are down 1% or down 2% in the US seems less important than whether McDonald’s can move the needle on its near-term sales with increased urgency over the next six months,” Francfort told investors.

And then on July 9 Truist lowered the investment firm’s price target on McDonald’s to $300 from $320 and kept a buy rating on the shares as part of a broader research note previewing second quarter same-store-sales for restaurants.

The firm said that Truist Card Data pointed broadly to a sales downside, with pressure on fast food as the recent value promotions are not helping yet. But the research saw strength in the fast-casual segment, Truist said,

For McDonald’s US, Truist Card Data suggested system sales of $13.5 billion, which is 1.6% below consensus, the firm said. It added that growth appeared to decelerate in May and June relative to April.

On Tuesday, July 9, the stock of the Chicago chain touched a 52-week low above $243 before bouncing a bit to close the regular session at $245.82.

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