Ahead of McDonald's announcement of its Q4 fiscal l results today (24 January), analysts were not expecting great things. In fact, the earnings of the world's largest fastfood chain are forecast to fall a little flat. There are three predominant reasons for the distinct lack of profit buoyancy at the US corporation. The BSE scare in Europe has had an extremely negative effect on the sales of beef patties, and the company's carefully preserved reputation took a dent when a mad cow was uncovered at its important Italian supplier,