Where Does McDonald's Go From Here?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The media always has a firm grasp for the glaringly obvious and in the case of McDonald's ( MCD) the obvious nearly smacks us in the head: Their second quarter, reported Monday, disappointed. A listless global economy harnessed to higher commodity costs and a lower dollar, all conspired against the Oak Brook, Ill. hamburger behemoth.

But where does McDonald's go from here to compete with Burger King ( BKW), Yum ( YUM) and Wendy's ( WEN), not to mention push back at those larger economic demons?

Most of the media, too busy giving us the chapter and verse of McDonald's quarter -- in other words, all the information readily available in the press release -- neglects to touch upon McDonald's strategic adjustments going forward.

After all, McDonald's is not going to just sit there looking stupid. They are going to try to do something new -- and that could determine (for better or worse) the course of coming quarters.

But in any article called "McDonald's Profit Declines as World Economy Weakens," The New York Times merely reviews the readily apparent.

The Wall Street Journal, by happy contrast, casts its gaze forward, talking about how the troubles are "pressuring the chain to `crank up' its marketing and promote value."

This holds opportunity and risk. Margins are already contorting and advertising and lower-priced items might accentuate the trend. Advertising is always a bit of a crapshoot, so pay close attention to coming campaigns and other marketing efforts -- but McDonald's has a long and reliable history in switching to a value focus.

All in all, McDonald's had a disappointing quarter -- but stands a good chance to get it right. Track marketing and discounting initiatives specifically, something you wouldn't know to do from reading much of the media.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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