Dow darling McDonald's Corp (MCD - 96.45) released its November sales report early this morning. Citing a feverish appetite among consumers for cult menu items, the McRib and the Peppermint Mocha, MCD said international same-store sales rose 7.4% in the month prior, easily besting analyst expectations for a 4.6% increase. Emerging markets were the biggest gainers, with sales in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa soaring 8.1%. By comparison, revenue in the United States and Europe both rose a stronger-than-expected 6.5%.
The fast-food maven's recent history of strong sales has helped the stock make significant gains throughout 2011, and MCD is currently sitting on a healthy 25.7% year-to-date gain. In fact, the equity tagged a new record high this morning, and is dangerously close to conquering the round-number $100 level. Furthermore, MCD has firmly established double-barreled support atop its uptrending 10- and 20-week moving averages.
Needless to say, the brokerage bunch remains solidly bullish toward the security. Zacks reports that 18 out of the 24 analysts surveyed maintain a "buy" or better recommendation toward the stock. Also, the average 12-month price target -- as calculated by Thomson Reuters -- is pegged at $101.38. While only a 5% premium to yesterday's close of $96.45, it still stands above the psychologically significant century mark.
This optimistic outlook is continued in the investment world, as well, where short interest accounts for a low 1% of the stock's available float. It would only take two days to cover these shorted shares, at MCD's average daily trading volume.
Echoing this bullish bias in the options arena is the equity's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 1.47. This ratio ranks higher than 52% of other such annual readings -- indicating that calls have been bought to open over puts at accelerated levels during the past two weeks.
This preference for calls over puts was continued in yesterday's session, where roughly 20,000 call contracts crossed the tape. By comparison, only 8,050 put contracts changed hands.
From a contrarian perspective, outperforming MCD could encounter some headwinds. The stock's Relative Strength Index (RSI) sits at 64, nearing overbought territory. Also, the equity is now resting above its upper Bollinger Band -- indicating that optimism toward MCD may be nearing extremes, possibly limiting additional upside for the security.
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