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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Despite the slew of earnings results the CNBC "Fast Money Halftime" trading panel could talk about, they instead opted to take a closer look at McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Report . The stock is jumping nearly 5% on Thursday thanks to the company's announcement that CEO Don Thompson will be stepping down. Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook is slated to take his place.
Stephanie Link, chief investment officer of TheStreet and co-manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, which is long the stock, said it was time for Thompson to step down, as the stock has basically flatlined during his tenure, climbing just 0.82% since March 2012, compared to the S&P 500's (SPY) - Get SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust Report climb of 47%.
Easterbrook will be a good leader for the company, Link added. Management has some promising ideas in the pipeline and there is "low hanging fruit" to grab to boost earnings per share. A price of $90 continues to act as strong support in the stock.
"I have to respectfully disagree," Joseph Terranova, chief market strategist for Virtus Investment Partners, said in response to Link. The company faces massive turnaround challenges, as comp-store sales continue to struggle. The menu remains "incredibly challenged," he added.
Sticking with the troubled menu theme, McDonald's went from having 85 items on the menu in 2007 to having 145 items in 2014, said Pete Najarian, co-founder of optionmonster.com and trademonster.com. While the company is trying to fight off competition from all sorts of gourmet burger joints, the stock appears to be headed higher in the short-term.
While there is a lot of support near $90 per share, the company has a much larger issue, says Josh Brown, CEO and co-founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management. The secular trend for healthy eating is alive and well. The company needs to make serious changes to engage millennial customers who no longer want to eat "factory food," he said.
McDonald's tends to do well when unemployment is high, since it can hire a more talented workforce looking for a job, according to Bill Smead, CEO of Smead Capital Management. When the unemployment rate goes down, McDonald's has less talent to chose from -- and when increasing the complexity of its menu, it's a bad combination.
Millennials will likely consider eating at the burger giant once they realize how expensive life is, Smead said. Shares of McDonald's would likely be trading for $75 if it weren't for its hefty dividend yield of 3.7%. The stock is an attractive buy around 14 to 15 times earnings, below the current 18.4 times earnings it currently trades at, he said.
The conversation turned to Alibaba (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Sponsored ADR Report after shares plunged 10% after weaker-than-expected earnings results. Investors just had high expectations following its strong Singles Day results, according to Josh Spencer, portfolio manager for T. Rowe Price. However, the company's 40% sales growth is still incredibly strong. Alibaba trades at just 20 times 2016 earnings estimates, so the recent pullback is a buying opportunity.
Spencer also referred to Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get QUALCOMM Incorporated Report as a "tremendous value," with a dominating position in the baseband chip market and a lineup of promising royalty collections. The stock remains attractive.
Spencer also likes Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report , saying "I could not be more optimistic" about the company. Shares could trade lower following earnings, but it's an "e-commerce juggernaut." He also likes Tesla Motors (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report on the long side.
Investors should expect continued volatility throughout 2015, according to Ric Edelman, CEO of Edelman Financial Group. However, investors shouldn't fear volatility. Instead, they should embrace it and use it as a buying opportunity when it creates selloffs. He likes global equities, as well as technology stocks, particularly those with disruptive characteristics, such as 3-D printing, robotics and health and medical innovations.
Long-term investors need to know how to handle short-term gyrations in the market, according to Chris Hyzy, CIO of U.S. Trust. Right now, they should "stick to their guns" and look toward February, which should be a better month. Low rates and low oil prices will fuel market gains in the second half of 2015, Hyzy said.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.