The McRib is Not the Answer

I don't know what exactly it is a metric of—the economic crisis? healthier eating habits? better taste? the inexplicable success of that extremely annoying actress playing Wendy in the commercials? the cannibalization of its flagship product by the McRib?—but a McDonald's milestone has been delayed.
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I don't know what exactly it is a metric of—the economic crisis? healthier eating habits? better taste? the inexplicable success of that extremely annoying actress playing Wendy in the commercials? the cannibalization of its flagship product by the McRib?—but a McDonald's milestone has been delayed.

According to leading economists and actuarial scientists (McDonald's itself no longer calculates such things), Ray Kroc's little hamburger stand was poised to sell its 300 billionth burger this year. But no more.

A recent slowdown has likely delayed that. Sales slowed throughout 2012 and, in October, McDonald's had its first year-on-year drop in comparable sales since 2003….

A sales rebound in November as a result of new offerings such as cheddar, bacon and onion burgers and the reintroduction of the McRib in December likely salvaged the full quarter from a revenue decline. But menu tweaks will go only so far in addressing a fundamental problem: Fast food isn't the growth business it once was.

While that is probably a wonderful thing for humanity and for U.S. healthcare costs, it's not so great for McDonald's and the rest of the "informal eating out" crowd. But the Kingdom of Arches did, at least, top analysts' estimates this morning by five cents a share, thanks to the McRib and the Dollar Menu.

Net income increased to $1.4 billion, or $1.38 share, from $1.38 billion, or $1.33, a year earlier, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in a statement. Analysts projected $1.33, the average of 28 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson boosted advertising of the chain’s dollar menu items, such as McDouble burgers and McChicken sandwiches, to draw Americans as consumer confidence falls. Sales at U.S. stores open at least 13 months rose 0.3 percent in the quarter. Analysts projected a 0.5 percent drop, the average of 22 estimates compiled by Consensus Metrix.

For actuarial purposes, do McDouble burgers count as two burgers on the long, arduous road to 300 billion?

McDonald's 300-Billionth Burger Delayed [WSJ]
McDonald's Profit Rises as Dollar Menu Drives U.S. Sales [Bloomberg]

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Convicted Insider Trader Garrett Bauer Hoping College Kids Will Help Him Get Off

Remember Garrett Bauer? For those who need a refresher, GB was a trader (who "mostly worked from home") who was charged last year for running a decades-long insider trading scam with an M&A attorney, Matthew Kluger, that involved stealing information from several law firms. (In April 2011, 20 FBI agents knocked on Bauer's door to arrest him which, while terrifying, didn't come as much of a shock-- the duo had recently become suspicious that the authorities were onto them and, naturally, went about destroying evidence, a process Bauer recounted to a cooperating witness in a conversation he didn't realize was being recorded, telling the CC: "My heart was beating ten thousand miles an hour. I went right up to my apartment and I broke the phone in half and went to McDonald's and put it in two different garabage cans. And someone was watching me. I thought it was an FBI agent. And I asked him, 'Do you know me? You look familiar.' And, like, I was so panicked. I literally didn't sleep that entire night...I can't sleep. I am waiting for the FBI to ride into my apartment. I am on edge all night thinking they are coming in.") Anyway, Bauer ultimately pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced today. Though he could receive up to 11 years in the big house, a judge will be taking into consideration letters "expressing support or urging leniency" sent on Bauer's behalf, some of which were written by fans he's gained working the college lecture circuit the past few months, explaining to undergrads why they don't want to follow in his footsteps (hint: it involves sleeping on bunk-beds). “I’m here hoping you won’t commit the same crime I committed, insider trading,” Bauer told the students at NYU’s Stern School of Business in February. “I feel remorse. That’s why I’m here. It’s my way of trying to apologize to everyone for what I’ve done and try to make amends.” Bauer said he hopes that his “scared straight” message, delivered in 147 speeches since last fall at business schools, law schools, churches and synagogues, will move the judge to grant him leniency. Sentencing judges can consider whether a defendant has accepted responsibility and shown remorse for his acts. “I’m not blind anymore,” Bauer said in an interview. “I see how wrong it was, how unfair it was to everybody else that’s trading. You get away with it once, and then you think you can get away with it every time. I almost never considered the question of getting caught. It was more a question of let’s figure out a way to make money and not lose money.” Bauer spoke several times a week in person or via Skype at schools including Harvard University, Yale University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Texas, the University of Michigan and Duke University. He booked his own speeches, sometimes called “Confessions of an Inside Trader.” Bauer gave the same basic narrative in two appearances observed at NYU, as well as at Cardozo Law School in New York, Drexel University in Philadelphia and a Rutgers University class in Jersey City, New Jersey. Bauer, lean at 5-foot-11 and 145 pounds, favors button-down shirts and khaki pants. He speaks rapidly in a nasal voice, lacing his account with jokes...In every talk to students, Bauer discussed how 20 FBI agents came to his apartment to arrest him and how they played the tapes for him, as well as his time in the Hudson County Jail. He tried hard to show no emotion to violent criminals. “Saying it’s a scary place kind of understates it,” he said. “It’s the scariest place on earth.” At least one professor believes Bauer's talk scarred his students for life, which should count for something. And according to Sameen Singh, a recent Stern grad who will soon start a job at Morgan Stanley, U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden ought to go easy on the guy, who is just another bro. “I was impressed by how human he was and how his friendships and relationships played a role in his crimes. My friends were quite taken aback by how similar he was to them. He came from humble beginnings, and he’s not a deviant mastermind criminal. He’s just a regular guy.” Prison-Bound Bauer Reprises ‘Confessions Of An Inside Trader’ [Bloomberg]