Can Starbucks really top McDonald's as the world's most valuable restaurant chain?

Can Starbucks overtake McDonald's as the world's most valuable restaurant chain?

Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski thinks it's inevitable. Kalinowski named Starbucks his top restaurant stock for 2017 in a report released on Tuesday.

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"It is only a matter of time before Starbucks overtakes McDonald's as the largest market cap restaurant stock, although likely not in 2017," said Kalinowski, who CNBC called one of Wall Street's top analysts. (Kalinowski also claims to be the only person in the country to have visited all 250 of the nation's top restaurant chains, according to his LinkedIn profile.)

But does his prediction hold water?

According to Bloomberg, Starbucks stock actually fell 7.5 percent last year, as growth seemed to slow. But many analysts like Starbucks' potential for growth. The world's reigning king of coffee currently has a goal of opening 37,000 cafes by 2021. (As of September 2016, McDonald's operated 36,615 locations worldwide.)


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"Well beyond 2021, we would not be surprised to see Starbucks exceed the 50,000-store level," said Kalinowski.

There are, however, a few factors that could change the game.

For one, Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz recently announced that he's stepping down next year, to focus on building the company's premium brand, Starbucks Reserve.) Since Schultz is the heart and soul of the company, that could be disastrous. (Don't you remember what happened the last time Schultz stepped down?)


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I've also written recently about some notable changes in strategy for McDonald's, including its attempt to beat Starbucks at its own game, by upping its coffee game. If McDonald's can win more moms and dads by delivering a similar experience to Starbucks, all while keeping the kids occupied, things will get interesting.

But hey, competition's always good for the consumer, right?

May the best company win.

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Who's your predicted winner, Starbucks or McDonald's? Let us know in the comments.