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McDonald's hits all-time high ahead of earnings, but this could send shares tumbling

  • Shares of McDonald's hit all-time high ahead of first quarter earnings report
  • The burger chain's stock has risen steadily since its investor day in March
  • BTIG analyst says McDonald's "can't miss on same-store sales" or shares could tumble
Adam Berry | Bloomberg | Getty Images

McDonald's is coming in hot ahead of its earnings report Tuesday.

Shares of the company once again Monday hit a fresh all-time high of $134.76, just a day ahead of the company's first-quarter earnings report. There's the potential for the stock to soar even higher — if the burger chain can meet or beat Wall Street's expectations, that is.

McDonald's stock is up almost 4 percent this month and more than 10 percent for the year-to-date, as of Monday's closing share price of $134.23.

The burger chain's multiyear turnaround effort, which found success with its All-Day Breakfast promotion, hit a snag last quarter due to tough same-store sales comparisons and investors worried about how the company would perform in 2017.

However, after its investor day in Chicago in March, McDonald's quelled some of those fears. During the event, the company's executives touted several big changes that the chain will be making to win back the more than 500 million visits it estimates it lost since 2012.

The Golden Arches said that it would focus on menu innovation, store renovations, digital ordering and delivery in order to achieve sustained growth and attract more customers.

Investors are bullish about the potential for these initiatives.

"I think expectations are very high in terms of the sentiment right now around the stock," Peter Saleh, a BTIG analyst, told CNBC Monday. "The bar has moved up. McDonald's has to beat and beat in style for the stock to hold or move up just slightly."

Source: FactSet

McDonald's will face tough comparisons this quarter. Last year, the chain turned in first-quarter U.S. same-store sales growth of 5.4 percent. This time around, analysts are calling for overall same-store sales growth of 1 percent, and U.S. same-store sales to decline 0.8 percent.

"McDonald's can't miss on same-store sales and expect the stock to stay where it is," Saleh said.

The company also had one less day in the quarter because of Leap Day last year. However, McDonald's will have easier comparisons in the remaining three quarters of 2017.

"A weak result for the recent period would have some negative impact on the price while exceeding expectations likely will continue to raise investor confidence in the stock as well as the price near term," Darren Tristano, chief insights officer at Technomic, told CNBC.

Beyond the numbers, McDonald's investors also want to hear how the company is progressing with its digital rollout and the other steps it laid out in March.

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