Morgan Stanley upgrades McDonald's on store modernization: 'Buying the McDonald's of the future'

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Morgan Stanley said it is “buying the McDonald’s of the future today” as the firm upgraded the fast food chain’s stock to overweight from equal weight on Thursday.

“We are endorsing the notion that McDonald’s massive store modernization efforts, first rolled out in select international markets and now in the US (its single largest market), will begin to pay off in ’19 and should produce best in class sales results for more years to come,” Morgan Stanley’s John Glass said in a note to investors.

McDonald’s shares rose 1.3 percent in premarket trading.

Glass says “the market is potentially underappreciating” these modernization efforts and expects McDonald’s will soon have a “structurally improved” business model. Additionally, Glass said the firm found that McDonald’s is a key “defensive” stock “during periods of economic slowing:” McDonald’s shares outperform the market 60 percent of the time when the S&P 1500 is declining and the CBOE Volatility Index is rising.

“McDonald’s provides a stabilizing, defensive counterbalance in a volatile market environment,” Glass said.

Morgan Stanley raised its price target on McDonald’s to $210 a share from $173 a share

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