NASDAQ - Kosher Snack
Rafi Goldmeier wrote:
Is a Jew allowed to buy shares in a company like McDonalds? They serve milk cooked with meat, and it is prohibited for Jews to derive any benefit from milk and meat cooked together!
Dear Rafi Goldmeier,
Many major corporations have investments in restaurants, hotels and food businesses that use mixtures of meat and milk. And as you said, the Torah forbids deriving benefit from meat cooked with milk.
However, many halachic authorities maintain that since you have no rights of ownership in the actual products, rather you only have dividends from the company's investments, it is permitted to own such stocks.
Rabbi S. Z. Braun addresses a similar question about owning stocks during Passover in a company that makes chametz. He writes that "since the stockholder has no right to do anything at the plant on his own accord, and certainly he has no right to destroy the chametz, he is not in violation of owning chametz." The same would apply to your question, and therefore you can own McDonalds stock.
Disclaimer: Under no circumstances does the above information represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks.
And speaking of stocks: an American financier was vacationing was at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with a native fisherman docked. Inside were several large fish. The American asked the fisherman how long it took to catch them. "Only a little while," he replied. The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The fisherman replied, "I have enough to support my family for today."
"What do you do the rest of the time?" asked the American.
"I sleep late, play with my children, take a siesta, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat on which you could catch even more fish. Then, you could buy several boats and eventually have a fleet. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to the big city to run your expanding enterprise."
"How long will all this take?" asked the fisherman, to which the American replied, "About 15 years."
"Ha!" laughed the American, "Then you would announce an IPO and sell stock in your company to the public! You'd make millions!"
"Then what?" asked the fisherman.
"Then," said the American, "you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta, and stroll to the village in the evenings to sip wine and play your guitar."
- She'arim Metzuyanim Behalacha 64:4, from Responsa Mahari Halevy 2:124