Monthly Archives: January 2015

Shareholders weren’t lovin’ it: McDonald’s CEO resigns

By Roberto A. Ferdman

A company in need of new direciton. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

A company in need of new direciton. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

The past few years have been difficult—to say the least—for McDonald’s. Just ask the company’s soon-to-be-former chief executive.

The fast food behemoth announced late Wednesday that CEO Don Thompson will be stepping down after only two and a half years at the helm. Steve Easterbrook, who currently serves as McDonald’s senior executive vice president, will replace Thompson as CEO on March 1, when the move takes effect.

“It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson said in a statement.

Indeed there is.

The change in leadership at McDonald’s comes on the heels of one of the toughest stretches in recent memory for the world’s largest fast food chain. Sales, both globally and domestically, have disappointed as of late. McDonald’s reported a 21 percent drop in global profit for its most recent quarter, as well as a nearly 2 percent dip in U.S. same store sales (those for restaurants open for at least a year).

McDonald’s business is Asia, where it has long looked for expansion, has suffered amid food scares. But it’s the company’s inability to reinvigorate its domestic business, which still accounts for the majority of its sales, that has been especially pronounced. McDonald’s, after all, hasn’t reported an increase in same store sales in the United States since October 2013, well over a year ago.

Righting the ship won’t be easy. McDonald’s struggles haven’t persisted, after all, for lack of effort to reverse them. The company has tried everything from offering free coffee to extending value menus and adding a made-to-order hamburger experience. A recent marketing campaign aims to quell …read more

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Google predicts a Seattle Superbowl win

By Christopher Ingraham

The Patriots will face the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLIX on Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Vegas oddsmakers don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to Superbowl favorites. In only three of the past eight contests did the Vegas favorite take home the Lombardi Trophy. So sports fans have started to get creative in their search for a better crystal ball.

Some have turned to the Madden NFL video game franchise, which each year runs simulations between the opposing teams a few days before the big game. Madden’s record is better, correctly predicting five out of the past eight winners.

But there may be an even better prediction tool at our disposal. In last year’s Superbowl, for instance, the Seattle Seahawks completely blew out the Denver Broncos, 43 to 8. Vegas oddsmakers favored Denver to win over Seattle, as did Madden. But had you been looking at Google searches instead, you might have predicted a Seattle win.

I should preface what follows by stating that there’s not much of a methodological backbone behind this other than hunch and speculation. But it certainly isn’t any worse than asking video games and Vegas bookies to predict the future for us, and in the end it actually produces better results!

For the past eight years, I looked at Google Trends data for the term “superbowl” in the month of January — the lead-up to the championship, which typically happens on the first Sunday of February. For each year, I looked at which team’s media market — Denver for the Broncos, New York for the Giants, etc. — had a greater interest in the Superbowl in January. And in six out of the past eight years, the team with the most local interest in the game …read more

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