When the economy gets tough, the tough get cheap, and that could help some exchange traded funds (ETFs) that contain fast-food companies.

Jonathan Lansner for the Orange County Register keeps one eye on fast-food joints while others are nervously watching the inflation rate. That’s because as prices go up, people are less inclined to spring for a sit-down dinner, but that doesn’t mean they’re more inclined to cook. Who wins? The McDonalds and Taco Bells of the world.

These small chains know it, too, if their aggressive price-cutting and one-upmanship is any indication. They want your dollar. Have a look:

  • McDonald’s (MCD) and Burger King (BKC) are doling out one-buck double cheeseburgers.
  • Wendy’s (WEN) is selling triple-deckers for $2.
  • Subway and Quizno’s are offering footlongs for $5.
  • Taco Bell (YUM) has put out a 79-89-99 cent value menu.

Does this mean that once the economy is in shape, we’re all going to be even fatter?

As these companies duke it out and our waistlines expand, at least one clear winner could emerge: the ETFs that hold them.

  • PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment (PEJ): down 4.6% year-to-date; YUM Brands (Taco Bell’s owner) is 5.8%; McDonald’s is 5.4%; Wendy’s is 3.2%; Burger King is 2.9%.
  • PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage (PBJ): down 0.9% year-to-date; YUM Brands is 5.6%; McDonald’s is 5.2%; Burger King is 2.8%.
  • iShares S&P Global Consumer Discretionary (RXI): down 6.3% year-to-date; McDonald’s is 3.1%.
  • Vanguard Consumer Discretionary (VCR): down 2.6% year-to-date; McDonald’s is 4.9%; YUM Brands is 1.4%.


The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.