McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD) and Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ:SONC) are both retail/wholesale companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their dividends, risk, profitability, institutional ownership, analyst recommendations, earnings and valuation.

Profitability

This table compares McDonald’s Corporation and Sonic Corp.’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
McDonald’s Corporation 21.00% -264.89% 16.21%
Sonic Corp. 13.23% -44.21% 9.71%

Dividends

McDonald’s Corporation pays an annual dividend of $3.76 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.4%. Sonic Corp. pays an annual dividend of $0.56 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.3%. McDonald’s Corporation pays out 61.5% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Sonic Corp. pays out 37.3% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. McDonald’s Corporation has increased its dividend for 40 consecutive years. McDonald’s Corporation is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and recommmendations for McDonald’s Corporation and Sonic Corp., as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
McDonald’s Corporation 0 9 22 0 2.71
Sonic Corp. 2 7 3 0 2.08

McDonald’s Corporation presently has a consensus price target of $162.05, suggesting a potential upside of 3.02%. Sonic Corp. has a consensus price target of $27.45, suggesting a potential upside of 14.11%. Given Sonic Corp.’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Sonic Corp. is more favorable than McDonald’s Corporation.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

67.5% of McDonald’s Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 97.5% of Sonic Corp. shares are held by institutional investors. 0.2% of McDonald’s Corporation shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 6.2% of Sonic Corp. shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Volatility and Risk

McDonald’s Corporation has a beta of 0.7, suggesting that its share price is 30% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Sonic Corp. has a beta of 1.74, suggesting that its share price is 74% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares McDonald’s Corporation and Sonic Corp.’s gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
McDonald’s Corporation $24.18 billion 5.30 $9.60 billion $6.11 25.74
Sonic Corp. $515.82 million 1.95 $158.68 million $1.50 16.04

McDonald’s Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Sonic Corp.. Sonic Corp. is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than McDonald’s Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

McDonald’s Corporation beats Sonic Corp. on 11 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

McDonald’s Corporation Company Profile

McDonald’s Corporation (McDonald’s) operates and franchises McDonald’s restaurants. The Company’s restaurants serve a locally relevant menu of food and drinks sold at various price points in over 100 countries. The Company’s segments include U.S., International Lead Markets, High Growth Markets, and Foundational Markets and Corporate. The U.S. segment focuses on offering a platform for authentic ingredients that allows customers to customize their sandwiches. Its High Growth Markets segment includes its operations in markets, such as China, Italy, Korea, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and related markets. The International Lead markets segment includes the Company’s operations in various markets, such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and related markets. The Foundational markets and Corporate segment is engaged in operating restaurants and increasing convenience to customers, including through drive-thru and delivery.

Sonic Corp. Company Profile

Sonic Corp. operates and franchises the chain of drive-thru restaurants (Sonic Drive-Ins) in the United States. As of August 31, 2016, 3,557 Sonic Drive-Ins were in operation from coast to coast in 45 states, consisting of 345 Company drive-thrus and 3,212 franchise drive-thrus. As of August 31, 2016, its restaurant design and construction consisted of a kitchen housed in a one-story building, which was approximately 1,500 square feet, flanked by canopy-covered rows of 16 to 24 parking spaces, with each space having its own payment terminal, intercom speaker system and menu board. At a Sonic Drive-In, a customer drives into one of the parking spaces, orders through the intercom speaker system and has the food delivered by a carhop and Sonic Drive-Ins also include a drive-thru lane and patio seating to provide customers with alternative dining options. Its food items include specialty drinks, such as cherry limeades and slushes, ice cream desserts and chicken sandwiches and hamburgers.

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