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McDonald's fast food shows strong on stock market

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 30th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It was a topsy-turvy year for the U.S. stock market - one in which a longtime fast-food institution took one of the top spots and one of America's most trusted banks began to sputter and fall.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I'm lovin' it" was the advertising catch-phrase, and line muttered by investors of the fast-food institution McDonald's in 2011. The fast food giant was the best performer on the Dow Jones industrial average in 2011, up 31 percent. The burger magnate even beat out Warren Buffett's newest favorite, IBM, which placed second among the blue chip winners.

At the low end of the totem pole, Bank of America suffered a 59 percent plunge to lows not seen since 2009. However, that slump gave it an easy win over Alcoa, whose shares lost 44 percent, in the competition for dubious distinction of "biggest loser."

These noticeable failures were an exception among Dow stocks in 2011. Overall, the index is up 6 percent going into 2011's last day of trading, outpacing the performance of not just the S&P 500, up only 0.4 percent, but also the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the broader Wilshire 5000, which are both slightly lower for the year.

And of the 30 Dow components, 19 are in positive territory for the year.

McDonald's has been bolstered by strong sales both domestically and globally. Shares hit an all-time high of $100.82 this week before settling back a bit to close Thursday at $100.81.

IBM, at second place had already achieved its run up by the time Buffett disclosed in November that Berkshire Hathaway had purchased a 5 percent stake in the company. Its shares are down slightly since then but still managed a 27 percent gain for the year.

Buffet threw Bank of America a $5 billion lifeline, buying preferred shares of the troubled bank in a deal announced in August. The bank's stock has continued to slide, putting the investment in the red, even with the $300 million in annual dividends that Berkshire will pocket.

Bank of America has since announced plans to shed 30,000 employees and close branches, and losing its title of the nation's largest bank to rival JPMorgan Chase in the third quarter. It was also forced to reverse course and drop a $5-a-month debit card fee after strong customer backlash.

While Bank of America's had highly visible problems, aluminum maker Alcoa's stock suffered a relatively quiet slide, as concerns about a looming recession in Europe and a possible slowdown in Chinese production hammered pricing and profits.

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