Cramer: McDonald’s franchises ‘had enough’

Cramer's stocks to watch: MCD
Cramer's stocks to watch: MCD

McDonald's franchises' dissatisfaction with Don Thompson's job as CEO led to his stepping down, according to Jim Cramer.

"The franchises, who really are the company, had enough," Cramer said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Thursday. "The menu's too hard; they're worried about wage pressures. Obviously, the dollar affected them tremendously."

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McDonald's announced Wednesday that Thompson was retiring from the company. The fast food giant disappointed investors last week as its fourth-quarter net income fell to $1.13 per share from $1.40 per share a year earlier. Wall Street expected McDonald's to post earnings of $1.22 a share, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Cramer added Thompson's exit was imminent once U.S. franchises "lost their way."

"I think they had the votes in the board," he said. "This surprised a lot of people. I think this actually occurred at the board meeting."

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Steve Easterbrook, McDonald's current chief brand officer, will succeed Thompson, effective March 1. "What I like about Easterbrook is that he recognizes ... you know what, 'we're going to make the best-tasting food. I love my product and we're not going to be shy about it,'" Cramer said. "This man ran 7,000 McDonald's in 39 countries. This is an international company."

Cramer also said it would take some time before the Illinois-based company gets back on its feet. "When Howard Schultz came back to fix Starbucks, he told me it's going to be 18 months before you even see a sign of return," he said. "I wanted to say [Schultz] is going to bring it back, [but] he called me and said 'don't you dare.'"

Disclosure: When this story was published, Cramer's trust owned McDonald's stock.