At least one group is getting fat off McDonald's (MCD) stock.
McDonald's stock was hammered on Friday by 5% after prominent restaurant analyst David Palmer at RBC Capital Markets said consumer interest in the chain's new $1, $2, $3 value menu has been modest. The analyst slashed his price target on McDonald's stock to $170 from $190 and dropped his U.S. same-store sales estimate to an increase of 1% from 3.5%.
Those short McDonald's have made a killing this year: $172.6 million in mark-to-market profits, according to S3 Analytics. The second most profitable short position in the restaurant space belongs to the under-performing Chipotle (CMG) , which has racked up $109 million in paper profits for the shorts.
The market may be overreacting on Mickey D's outlook for this year though. Another Wall Street firm believes McDonald's new $1, $2, $3 menu has greatly improved the perception of its value among consumers.
"McDonald's is the value leader by a wide margin, with consumer 'good value' perceptions well above quick-service restaurant peers," UBS' research team wrote. "Fifty-two percent of consumers associated McDonald's with 'good value'' in our 2018 survey, a slight increase from 2016's survey."
The Golden Arches also received high consumer perceptions related to "good promotions" and "good selection of low-priced menu choices." Better value perception is often a good leading indicator on future sales trends for restaurants.
Whatever one's view of McDonald's is right now, there is something to be agreed upon: the stock doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as General Electric.