We warned last week that the scandal over Chinese meat supplier OSI was spreading (and Asians were increasingly shunning western fast-food restaurants) and now, as The FT reports, McDonald’s Japan has pulled its full-year profit guidance on the back of falling sales. It had previously forecast sales of $2.45bn for the year to December but warned it could not commit to new targets as it was too soon to estimate the scandal’s full impact. McDonald's is hardly ready to cope with this as sales are slumping and Russia is banning certain products.
Think only the US can engage in the farce known as "sanctions" (why theater, because until Obama sanctions Gazprom, yeah right... crickets... it is nothing but populist theater)? Think again. Overnight Russia's consumer protection agency, filed a lawsuit in a Moscow court - which clearly has nothing to do with recent geopolitical bickering between the former Cold War enemies - seeking to ban some of McDonald's Corp's burgers along with its milk shakes and ice cream, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. The reason for the ban: as Reuters reports, a regional branch of the consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor asked the court to declare production and sales of some products illegal due to "inappropriate physical-chemical parameters." The lawsuit's list of contested products named the fast-food chain's Royal Cheeseburger, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburger and Chicken Burger but not its Big Mac burger.
Two-Thirds Of Chinese Consumers No Longer Trust Western Fast-Food As "Meat Scandal" Spreads Across AsiaSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/23/2014 11:12 -0400
As if the Chinese meat scandal was not a big enough concern for Western fast-food firms, The WSJ reports that the crisis is spreading across Asia as Yum Brands and McDonalds sever links with US-owned Shanghai Husi Food Company, which is accused of selling expired beef and chicken, pulling supplies of chicken from restaurants in Japan. Perhaps even more worrisome for American fast-food companies who have expanded aggressively and over-hyped the growth opportunities in China, a second Sina survey started yesterday, featuring 25,000 respondents, found 77% believed the restaurant brands affected had been aware of Husi’s faulty practices, while 69% said they would no longer dine at the restaurants run by the Western companies.
Despite yesterday's lackluster earnings the most recent market levitation on low volume was largely due to what some considered a moderation in geopolitical tensions after Europe once again showed it is completely incapable of stopping Putin from dominating Europe with his energy trump card, and is so conflicted it is even unable to impose sanctions (despite the US prodding first France with BNP and now Germany with the latest DB revelations to get their act together), as well as it being, well, Tuesday, today's moderate run-up in equity futures can likely be best attributed to momentum algos, which are also rushing to recalibrate and follow the overnight surge in the AUDJPY while ignoring any drifting USDJPY signals.
Following the overnight ramp in various JPY crosses (dragging equity futures higher, and the Nikkei up 0.8%) it is as if the market is desperate to put all of last week's geopolitical events in the rearview mirror, and while yesterday there were no economic events of note, today's CPI and existing home prints should provide at least some distraction from the relentless barrage of one-line updates on Ukraine and Gaza. Still, that is precisely where the biggest risk remains, with an emphasis on the possibility of more Russian sanctions, this time by Europe.
This week, 70 years after Bretton Woods, leaders from China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and several other nations are hard at work in Fortaleza, Brazil creating a new development bank that will compete against the US-controlled World Bank. This is a major step in an obvious trend towards a new financial system. Every shred of objective data is screaming for this to happen. It’s a different world. Everyone realizes it except for the US government, which is still living in the past where they’re #1 and get to call all the shots.
McDonalds will have a tough time explaining is why after almost hitting 'escape velocity' and nearly posting positive annual comps in the US, McDonalds just reported that May US comps once again dipped, declining by 1.0%, on expectations of a tiny 0.1% increase, thus cementing the longest period in our records database, a total of 7 months, in which McDonalds has gone without posting a single month of increasing US sales! We can't wait for the company to blame the blamy balmy, spring weather as the reason why nobody could afford a 99 cent meal.
Has the next major economic downturn already started? The way that you would answer that question would probably depend on where you live. If you live in New York City, or the suburbs of Washington D.C., or you work for one of the big tech firms in the San Francisco area, you would probably respond to such a question by saying of course not. In those areas, the economy is doing great and prices for high end homes are still booming. But in most of the rest of the nation, evidence continues to mount that the next recession has already begun for the poor and the middle class.
If there is one thing that the militarized warzone with the weapons ban (and which makes east Ukraine look like a kindergarten) namely Chicago, did not need in order to fall further into social chaos and disarray, it is a new tidal wave of unemployment: people freshly without jobs who for lack of better options would likely join the daily survival of the fittest routine on the streets of the windy city. And a tidal wave of unemployment is precisely what Chicago is likely to get if, as a group of Chicago aldermen have proposed, the minimum wage in the nation's third-largest city is nearly doubled to $15 an hour. Why $15? Because according to recently striking McDonalds line cooks, it's only fair, and is the minimum pay that fast-food workers have sought during national protests.
Another company which relies on the viability of the global consumer for its profits reports, and sure enough another company that misses: namely McDonalds. Moments ago the fast-food giant reported Q1 revenues of $6.70 billion, missing expectations of $6.72 billion (pushing the number of companies that have missed revenue estimates this earnings season once again into the majority), and also missing EPS estimates of $1.24, printing at $1.21, which however will not be a surprise to those who have been following our reporting on MCD's same store sales growth, or lack thereof, in the US. But while the collapse of the US consumer is well-known, and will hardly be an embarrassment for McDonalds management to reveal its exposure to it, what does the CEO blame the miss on? Why the weather of course.
A few weeks ago, when the US announced the first set of sanctions against Russia, we jokingly commented that among the possible retaliations would be a Russian explusion of that global US permastaple, McDonalds. As it turns out, yet another "joke" may be on its way to becoming the truth.
As the cost of living increases around the globe, wage protests and strikes have become commonplace, particularly in the emerging market space:
The situation with Russia should give investors and traders a reason to brush up on their history, as current events take root in things that happened 50, 100, and 200 years ago. To understand this, can provide perspective, during an information war, where it's not easy for some to separate facts from beliefs and propoganda (on both sides). The relationship between US and Russia has always been interesting, as we shall explore.
The cultural divide
So much for de-escalating:
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN SIGNS ORDER ON RECOGNITION OF CRIMEA AS SOVEREIGN STATE - RIA
Surely to precede Putin's own executive order recognizing Crimea as the latest member of the Russian Federation. And as for those "crippling" sanctions, via the FT, here is the locals reall think and why the Russian stock market is soaring as we reported earlier.
Moments ago McDonalds reported its latest monthly comp store sales numbers. Printing at -1.4% for the US, this was a nearly double miss to expectations of a 0.6% decline, and was the 4th consecutive monthly drop in annual sales - the longest such stretch in the past decade and likely longer. Looking at this data, there are two observations: i) Americans, courtesy of record obesity rates, are finally getting serious about their health, and have shunned the infamous 99 cent deep fried meals or ii) courtesy of the Fed's "Fed's recovery", the average American can no longer even afford sub-$1 deep fast food.