tough year ahead for mcdonalds just ain’t so

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

THIS IS NOT WHAT I INTEND my “Strunk­and­whiten It!” cat­e­gory to be about, but it does qualify as a misuse of the language—although in this case, it may be in­ten­tional cam­ou­flage. I am often sur­prised by the way large, HUGELY suc­cessful cor­po­ra­tions are treated and de­scribed in the fi­nan­cial sec­tions of newspapers.

Head­lines and leads would have the reader be­lieve that many com­pa­nies are in dire straits when the truth is the op­po­site. Here are the head­lines and leads to an ar­ticle in to­days’ SEATTLE TIMES (July 23, 2013):

Mc­Don­ald’s earn­ings fall short


Higher costs, less crew
ef­fi­ciency with new items

Does not sound good. In fact, it sounds rather dire. Well, read on and one finds that their second quarter profits for 2013 only rose 4%, less than the Wall Street prog­nos­ti­ca­tors had ex­pected. THAT is the ex­pla­na­tion for the head­line above.

And, while their stock took a small fall on Monday, it’s up 13% over the year. For the 34,000 stores world­wide, “sales edged up 1% at restau­rants open at least a year.”

I dunno, sounds pretty damn good to me. But then comes the qual­i­fier: “The small sales bump in the U.S. wasn’t enough to offset the higher ad­ver­tising and pro­mo­tional costs for those new items, as well as the re­duced ef­fi­ciency in restau­rants.” THAT is the ex­pla­na­tion for the second lead above.

The in­creased costs in doing busi­ness and the “re­duced ef­fi­ciency” sounds bad, I agree. Ex­cept, don’t these com­pa­nies get to write these costs off of their tax forms?

Please keep in mind that any in­crease in sales for a cor­po­ra­tion that en­joys a multi-billion dollar profit year after year is, in fact and deed, a huge in­crease in real dol­lars. That is, Mc­Don­ald’s is making more money in 2013 than it did in 2012. But you would NEVER know that by the head­lines and leads quoted above.

PS: About that “re­duced ef­fi­ciency” noted above: it is a con­tin­u­ally growing problem in US busi­nesses every­where. This is at least par­tially (if not wholly) due to a com­bi­na­tion of re­duced ed­u­ca­tion for Amer­ican stu­dents at all grade levels and in­ad­e­quate compensation.

Most of these restau­rants pay “com­pet­i­tive wages,” which trans­lates to “slightly more than min­imum wage,” which means the job has no real value to most of the em­ployees as they can usu­ally re­place one “com­pet­i­tive wage” po­si­tion for an­other in a day or two. But that’s an­other story . . .


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neal - per­haps the head­line is re­fer­ring to the fact that mc­don­ald’s (at least lo­cally) can no longer pay its em­ployees with debit cards, but, rather, with an ac­tual check! i don’t know if such was the case in your area, but it was a big deal here (nepa) within the past few months.

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