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It was on this day in 1974 that Richard Nixon turned in his resignation to Henry Kissinger, and Gerald Ford became President. I was somewhat distracted then, as just 5 days before I had gone back to work in public relations in Chicago at Cooper and Golin on the global McDonald's PR account. I was still living on my Chris-Craft, anchored opposite Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park harbor. I would row ashore each morning in my dingy, wearing a three piece suit with my briefcase, then walk across Grant Park to my new office overlooking the Wrigley Building across the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue. Seeing Nixon out was some recompense for the insult of the Vietnam War, but I was too busy getting in the groove of publicizing Ronald McDonald to stop and pay much notice. If Ford hadn't later pardoned Nixon, he might have gone on to become a greater President.

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Lots of happy faces have turned their smiles upside down thanks to the cynical idiots who have portrayed clowns as evil or frightful characters, in film and out on the streets. Traditional clowns display outsized happy faces and act out the glee of innocent children. They came down to modern generations in circuses and on early children’s television shows as colorful, happy-go-lucky characters, who could juggle and do magic, jump around and entertain in a jolly manner, make characters out of balloons, and even teach kids simple lessons of life.

How very sad that the contortions of humorless cynics are busy taking away that delight from a new generation of kids, and even the adults who recall happier times, but fear those who now sometimes hide behind masks of terror.

Some of the brightest people I have known and worked with created the happy personality, engaging appearance and educational content practiced by one of the world’s best-known and loved clowns, Ronald McDonald.  They brought life to his jolly demeanor, and helped him entertain millions of kids at birthday parties, special events, on TV,in schools and hospitals and even, sometimes at McDonald’s itself.

Now, thanks to the rabble who have turned some clownish smiles into toothy glares, and even threatened people on the streets, even McDonald’s has been forced to keep Ronald at home more often. Spoilsports, nasty adolescents, small criminals and grossly-mistaken people have tried to take the clowns away from a generation that needs small jolts of simple joy and happiness more than ever.

I was lucky enough, some forty years ago, to have been part of a group that put special places of comfort and relief for parents of seriously ill children on the map of America and around the world. They are called Ronald McDonald Houses. How did they get that name? Not because McDonald’s, as a major financial supporter, had recommended the name. Because one of the volunteers thought that the happy environment conjured up by association with Ronald would give these houses an upbeat and hopeful image. The image was a happy one, and kids being treated for serious illnesses could get a smile when they heard their parents or siblings were staying at Ronald McDonald’s house, and even visit them there.

Two generations ago, my family owned part of a circus, and my Dad and Aunt had circus horses to ride, and clown culture was part of family life. My own professional life was filled  with creating events and materials full of upbeat clown content: Ronald McDonald Shows, including school safety and environmental lessons delivered by Ronald, working with the talented comedians and others who trained and motivated those who played Ronald McDonald, naming a major national and international children’s charity after that very clown — Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Today, the explorers of artificial intelligence are creating human-like exteriors for robots, so that people will find it easier to interact with them. A clown face is but an exaggeration of a smiling human, designed to elicit a big smile in return. Anything else is not a clown, but someone’s dark dream. I say, “Bring in the clowns, the real clowns, and let’s smile again!”

If I read this correctly, it’s somewhere between $117 and 75 cents per share? I like the more generous interpretation…

How Much Is McDonald’s Really Worth?
The fast-food giant has led its industry for decades. Just how big is McDonald’s net worth?

Dan Caplinger (TMFGalagan) Sep 7, 2016 at 1:42PM

Fast-food pioneer McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) has long been the stalwart in its industry, transforming the nature of the restaurant business and creating a trend that has lasted for more than half a century. With more than 36,000 locations around the world, McDonald’s has a global presence, and its golden arches are known the world over as an American icon.

At the same time, long-term investors have earned huge returns by owning McDonald’s stock and holding it over the decades. Yet there are many methods for coming up with a corporate valuation, and many investors are curious whether McDonald’s stock accurately reflects its actual worth. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the net worth of McDonald’s, using several different measures, to see whether the current share price is consistent with the fast-food giant’s true value.

The simplest measure of McDonald’s worth
In the end, the market itself puts the best measure of value on a company. McDonald’s currently has about 853 million shares outstanding. With a share price of around $117 per share, that puts McDonald’s market capitalization at right around $100 billion.

Some investors don’t like the fact that market capitalization doesn’t take into account how much cash and debt a company has. Instead, they prefer enterprise value, which goes beyond those figures to drill down on the value of the actual business that produces profit for the company. When you account for McDonald’s cash and debt, its enterprise value works out to more than $121 billion.

Has the market supersized McDonald’s true value?
However, you get a much different picture when you look at McDonald’s from an accountant’s perspective. The company’s balance sheet provides a different view of McDonald’s, and it’s one in which the fast-food company seems to be richly valued by the market.

McDonald’s most recent financial statements put a value of $33.1 billion on its assets. That includes $3.1 billion in cash and short-term investments, another $1.3 billion in accounts receivable, and $600 million in inventory, prepaid expenses, and other current assets. In addition, McDonald’s plants, property, and equipment make up almost $23 billion after taking accumulated depreciation into account. Long-term investments account for less than $1 billion, and adding in about $4 billion in goodwill and other long-term assets brings you to the total for the restaurant operator.

Against those assets, McDonald’s has substantial liabilities. Debt amounts to $26 billion, all of which is long-term. Accounts payable and accrued expenses add another $2.4 billion, and taxes due and other liabilities amount to another $4 billion or so. All told, liabilities amount to $32.5 billion.

That leaves a scant $640 million in shareholder equity for McDonald’s shares. That works out to a book value of just $0.75 per share, or less than 1% of the company’s current share price. Trading at a premium to book value isn’t all that unusual for a stock, but the extent of the premium here reflects a gradual deterioration in McDonald’s book value in recent years.

For those who believe that investors are rational, it’s easy to conclude that McDonald’s true value clearly isn’t reflected in its accounting statements. For instance, a huge part of McDonald’s worth comes from its brand identity, and in its most recent annual survey of major global brands late last year, Interbrand ranked McDonald’s No. 9. The report put a value of $39.8 billion on McDonald’s brand identity, and even though that was down 6% from year-earlier levels, it still recognizes the lengths to which the fast-food giant has gone to produce a marketing message that puts its competitors to shame.

Is McDonald’s worth its share price?
Finally, you can learn a lot about a company by comparing it to its peers. In some cases, a superior company deserves a premium valuation when you put it side by side with fellow industry rivals. In others, a disparity can reflect short-term factors that can reverse quickly and pull share prices down in the future.

For McDonald’s, the stock’s current valuation puts it in the middle of the pack in terms of trailing price-to-earnings ratios, as you can see below:

Stock
Earnings Multiple
Dividend Yield
Anticipated Growth Rate
McDonald’s
22
3.1%
9.3%
Yum! Brands
27
2%
12.2%
Wendy’s
20
2.4%
16.5%
DATA SOURCE: YAHOO! FINANCE.

However, a couple of things stand out. First, McDonald’s large size makes it harder to produce meaningful growth, especially in comparison to smaller competitors. Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) and Wendy’s (NASDAQ:WEN) start from smaller bases, so their growth initiatives can produce more visible results.

Yet McDonald’s retains its leadership role in dividends. The company has a higher yield than its peers, and it has a long history of annual dividend increases stretching back for 40 years. If the fast-food restaurant chain sticks with its past practices, another hike in its quarterly payout should come before the year is out.

McDonald’s net worth reflects the fact that it is one of the best-known brands in the market. Even though the company has gone through ups and downs, its staying power makes McDonald’s a stalwart stock that has stood the test of time and should continue to do so in the future.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (PRWEB) DECEMBER 15, 2015
Bruges Waffles & Frites recently participated in a french fry taste test, the results of which shows them outperforming other restaurant franchises. The study, conducted by an independent research firm, Rise Strategic, hired secret shoppers to participate in the test. The shoppers were tasked with visiting several local restaurant franchises known for their fries and reporting on how the fries are prepared, wait times between ordering and receiving their fries, and the cost of a small order. They were then asked to rate each franchise on a scale of 1-5 in the following categories:
-Aroma
-Color
-Overall Flavor
-Saltiness
-Exterior Texture
-Interior Texture
-Consistency
-Separation
-Temperature
-Length
-Serving Size
-Value
-Variety of Condiments/Sauces
-Flavor of Condiments/Sauces
-Size & Shape
-Overall Rating
When the study was complete, Bruges authentic Belgian frites were shown to have the best overall flavor, best aroma, best presentation, best variety of condiments/sauces, best flavor of condiments/sauces, and were the only fries not under salted and with an ideal consistency. Bruges also had the highest rankings for ideal color, best exterior texture, and won the highest overall ratings.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of the survey results,” said Pierre Vandamme, Owner and co-founder of Bruges Waffles & Frites. “Since the history of fries dates back to Belgium, it makes sense that an authentic Belgian frite company should be topping the charts for best frites in the region. Our fries are not your typical french fry as they are fried twice for the perfect flavor and consistency. Paired with our hand-made dipping sauces, this is a recipe for french fry perfection!”
Shoppers in the taste test said the fries were delicious, presented beautifully, and ‘sooooo good.’ They loved the ambiance, the friendly employees and the fact that the fries were fresh and cooked to order. One shopper said, “It was worth the wait for freshly cooked fries!”
Bruges added Belgian frites to the menu after seeing the success their authentic waffles were having in the community and decided it was time to share another Belgian favorite. Today loyal fans rave about the frites on social media and online review sites. To learn more about the Bruges Waffles & Frites brand, and the restaurant franchise opportunities offered, visit the company website: http://www.brugesfranchising.com

barqs

In the mid-90s, I had the pleasure of showing the Chairman of the Coca-Cola Company, Roberto Guizeta around his first visit to the campus of McDonald’s global home office in Oak Brook, and we had an interesting exchange about root beer as we drove between buildings in his limousine.

Coke had just bought the company that made my favorite root beer, Barq’s “It’s Good,” and I took the occasion to ask him about it. Coke already had its own root beer brand, so I wondered out loud, “Roberto, what made you decide to buy Barq’s?” In his strong Cuban accent, he answered, between long pulls on a Camel cigarette, “Charles, my grandfather in Cuba, he like root beeer very much, and he made his own. I buy Barqs for him…plus, it was a very good deal!”

The original McDonald's

Dick and Mac McDonald’s original drive-in, walk-up service restaurant in San Bernardino, CA, as it looked when they completed the renovation from their old bar-be-que, car hop restaurant, in 1948. Showing an autograph by “Richard J. McDonald, Founder.”

Fred had just observed his 80th birthday, and had served for nearly a decade as Chairman Emeritus of McDonald’s Corporation, the world’s largest restaurant company and a Dow Jones 30 Industrial. He began his McCareer as one of entrepreneur Ray Kroc’s first employees, as a grill man.

Over the years he developed the operating system (Quality, Service and Cleanliness) that made McDonald’s famous. He kept a low profile outside the company, but was a lion to those inside the 34 thousand restaurant organization — employees, franchises and suppliers — which he called the three-legged stool upon which McDonald’s stood. Fred created the training system that introduced millions of employees to the world of responsible work. Hamburger Universities and their home campus, the Fred L. Turner Training Center (which I named) in Oak Brook, IL, are taken very seriously by the generations of managers who are graduates. I hold a Bachelor of Hamburgerology degree, 1985.

I wrote about Fred, as well as fellow business legends,Dick McDonald and Ray Kroc, in my essay for the Chicago Literary Club, “Breakfast With Mr. McDonald.” You can Google it, or go to http://www.chiit.org and search under Ebeling. Fred was a wonderfully irascible character.

 

2011 Top 10 Largest Chains (by latest-year sales)

McDonald's 1. McDonald’s – $34.17B
2. Subway – $11.43B
3. Starbucks Coffee – $8.49B
4. Burger King – $8.13B
5. Wendy‘s – $8.11B
6. Taco Bell – $7.00B
7. Dunkin’ Donuts – $5.93B
8. Pizza Hut – $5.50B
9. KFC – $4.60B
10. Applebee’s – $4.43B

Read more: http://nrn.com/article/top-100-top-10-chains-and-companies?goback=%2Egde_140791_member_138617717#ixzz22KKfBtHX

 

Back in the early 90s, when Warren Buffet owned a $1.5 billion position in McDonald’s stock, he called my office and asked for a little help. It seemed that he and his friend Bill Gates and their families were planning a vacation trip to China, and had chartered a Chinese train to carry them across the country. Buffet was a McDonald’s fan, and asked if we could guide him to our restaurants along his route. We helped make it easy for he and his party to drop in at a McDonald’s whenever their hunger for hamburgers and fries arose. He talked about that trip for years.

By 2008, Buffet had invested $200 million in Chinese transportation, in a major Chinese car company, BYD, which was developing technology and production capability to build electric cars. By the way, BYD means Build Your Dreams. Really. BYD is slow getting off the mark, but they may yet become a factor in the electric car revolution.

Now, in 2012, Buffet appears on Chinese State Television, wishing the country well in their Year of the Dragon Chinese New Years celebration.   And then he appears, in the same broadcast, playing his ukulele (http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/01/23/see-warren-buffett-sing-and-play-the-ukulele/) in front of a model railroad, singing “I’ve been working on the railroad.” With the background that we know Buffet likes trains, including trains in China, and that Berkshire Hathaway not long back invested $20 billion in the Burlington Northern railroad over here, I wonder if he’s sending a signal that he may now be interested in getting financially involved somehow in the rails in China?

Stay tuned.

With Manchester, NH, constantly in the news, and tomorrow’s Presidential primary in the media bullseye, I’m reminded of my frequent trips there in the 80s and 90s to meet with a local resident whose name was and is better known than any of the current political candidates, yet the man himself was known to too few.

He was Dick McDonald, co-founder with his brother Mac of the ubiquitous global restaurant chain. He would often meet me at the airport, and I remember arriving one day shortly after a modern McDonald’s had opened inside the terminal. And there was Dick, wandering through in his trench coat and hat, bedazzled by the bright neon, as if he had just landed on the moon.  I was head of corporate communications for the company, and our chairman had given me the job of rebuilding our relationship with the man who started fast food in America. His house was on a cul-de-sac of a little street, with a tiny sign above his mailbox with the word “McDonald” on it — surely the smallest McDonald’s sign in the world.

Below is a segment from my essay, “Breakfast With Mr. McDonald” that can be read on the website of the Chicago Literary Club at http://www.chilit.org. Just click on the “Roster of members” and then on my name, Charles Ebeling, and you can read that and other essays I’ve written for the club.

Here’s the excerpt from my essay about a great man of modest ambitions:

Dick McDonald, who lived on until 1998, was first and foremost a kindly man, a gentleman. He was tall and solidly built, with thin gray hair combed back. He was always well dressed, seemingly always wearing a crisp suit or sport coat and tie, with a neat checked pocket square, and a McDonald’s logo pin on his tie or lapel. In retirement, he was a quiet, friendly New Englander, direct and unpretentious, enjoying a slow predictable pace into his twilight years. He was married in 1965 after his retirement and returned to his hometown, with the love of his life, his old high school sweetheart, Dorothy, whom he called Dot.

Dick and Dot lived in a neat, modest tri-level house that must have been new when he moved to Bedford, New Hampshire, a suburb of Manchester, near where they both grew up. He loved to drive and always had one or more new Cadillacs, a luxury he’d acquired when his San Bernardino restaurant became successful. He had moved back to Bedford from California after he retired in 1961. He was to spend much of his time managing his portfolio of stocks and real estate, and actively corresponding with old friends, and with those few who had discovered his pioneering innovations in restaurant service. He was quoted then as saying, “We keep a low profile. We like it that way. We value our privacy.”

They traveled a lot, driving to Arizona and the west coast, to Florida and Canada many times. He and Dot had both been married before. Dick had no children, but Dot had a son, who had two sons of his own whom Dick thought of as his grandchildren. The grandsons would come to stir old pride and determination in their grandfather’s aging bones, and bring back both tensions and gratifications that enlivened the elder’s hours.

Yes, Dick McDonald had experienced a life full of energy and experiment, failures and successes, before that retired life, at the other end of the country, in another time, which we will revisit. But now, in the autumn of his life, he was again beginning to have some fun and was reaping a second round of well-deserved recognition for the spark of entrepreneurship that he and his brother had lit, in the 1940s and 50s, and which had been fanned into an enormous flame of global consumerism by Ray Kroc, founder of the modern McDonald’s Corporation.

This then is the largely untold, eye-witness story of the reemergence, recriminations, reconciliations and the ultimate reverie of Dick McDonald. He was a man, who with his brother Mac played a pivotal pioneering role in the continuing evolution of food service for the mobile lifestyles of our modern civilization. I was given the chance to help bring his story back to life.

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