After threatening to respond to various protests demanding a higher minimum wage by moving more into automation, McDonald's finally made it official last week.
McDonald's shares hit an all-time high on Tuesday as Wall Street expects sales to increase from new digital ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in 2,500 restaurants.
Cowen raised its rating on McDonald's shares to outperform from market perform because of the technology upgrades, which are slated for the fast-food chain's restaurants this year.
McDonald's shares rallied 26 percent this year through Monday compared to the S&P 500's 10 percent return.
Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald's calls “Experience of the Future,” includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery.
Because of the company's success and the fact that it employs so many young people, McDonald's has been a frequent target of the #FightFor15 minimum wage movement:
Many people have been warning that this was the logical outcome of demanding higher mandated wages for entry-level jobs that were never meant to be anything but that. Some couldn't wait to rub it in a little.
The reality is that this move to automation was going to happen anyway. This is the 21st century, after all. McDonald's was already using the kiosks in other countries where there were no #FightFor15 protests, so it was probably only a matter of time before they showed up in the United States.
One wonders whether the protests accelerated that timetable, though.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.