For McDonald's (MCD), 2014 may well end up as one of the most pivotal in its nearly 60-year history: Either it succeeds in powering past its recent setbacks, or it becomes further viewed as a faltering giant in retreat.
McDonald's, to be clear, isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's too large and entrenched, with $89 billion in system-wide sales and 35,000 locations globally, to suffer serious damage quickly. In the U.S. alone, its 14,000-plus units, the majority of them franchises, had sales in excess of $35 billion last year. Should its demise ever come, it will be in a far distant future.
But cracks in the structure are there. McDonald's has mended them before, as with ongoing restaurant remodels meant to improve the perception of stores by offering fresh looks and cleanliness. Its menu additions, both the permanent and limited-time offers, regularly nod to changing consumer interests. Even after the "Super Size Me" era, it thrived.
Now, however, McDonald's has a new set ofRead More »from Ahead of earnings, McDonald's arches showing cracks