Updated from 3:19 p.m. ET to include closing share price, volume information. NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Are you still lovin' it? That's the question facing McDonald's ( MCD) investors on Thursday following news that Jim Skinner, the company's chief executive officer since November 2004, plans to retire this summer. Skinner, who also chairs Mickey D's board, is hanging up his fry basket, effective June 30, with Don Thompson, the current president and chief operating officer, taking over the top job.
The choice of Thompson was pretty straightforward for McDonald's as he's been a key part of the success the company has enjoyed during Skinner's tenure. Before being named to the president and COO roles in January 2010, Thompson was the president of McDonald's USA for four years, and, as the company put it, was "responsible for the strategic direction and positive business results of the nearly 14,000 restaurants in the U.S." McDonald's, of course, saw a renaissance in its U.S. business during that time, successfully updating its menu with smoothies, a variety of coffee drinks, expanded breakfast items and more healthy choices across the board. The past two years have seen the overall company post impressive top-line growth of nearly 20% with revenue totaling $27 billion in 2011, up from $22.7 billion in 2009, and the U.S. business continues to outperform the rest of the company. Wall Street has rewarded McDonald's for that performance, sending the stock up 30.7% in 2011, the best performance within the Dow last year, but the shares have been left behind somewhat in 2012, losing nearly 4% even as the broad market has continued to rally off the October lows. Oppenheimer wasn't fazed in the slightest by the succession news, saying: "The departure of Mr. Skinner has no impact on our investment thesis or outlook for fundamentals." The firm, which has a perform rating, the equivalent of a hold, on McDonald's shares, acknowledged the significance of Skinner's achievements and feels that Thompson is certainly up for the job. "Mr. Skinner leaves an unmatched legacy as he strategically designed and implemented MCD's historic turnaround which drove 21% annual shareholder returns under his leadership," Oppenheimer wrote in an intraday research note on Thursday, adding later: "We believe Mr. Thompson is an excellent choice to carry forward the principles Mr. Skinner grounded."