Breakfast of Champions: McDonald's Has Another Strong Quarter

Fast-Food Chain Posts 6.2% Gain in Same-Store Sales

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McDonald's all-day breakfast is helping to drive sales.
McDonald's all-day breakfast is helping to drive sales. Credit: McDonald's

McDonald's Corp.'s comeback is gaining steam, fueled by all-day breakfast, value deals and lower commodity prices.

The fast-food chain posted a 6.2% gain in same-store sales last quarter, the best performance in four years, and earnings handily topped analysts' estimates.

The results show CEO Steve Easterbrook's plan to revive the world's largest restaurant chain is gathering momentum. Since taking the helm more than a year ago, he has revamped drive-thru ordering, tweaked kitchen operations and slimmed down the menu. The company also has reignited U.S. sales with all-day breakfast and McPick two-for-$2 and two-for-$5 deals.

"They're getting back to why customers fell in love with the brand," said Michael Halen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. "It's really just basic blocking and tackling."

The shares rose as much as 2.1% to $128.20 in New York, the biggest intraday increase in almost three months.

While revenue dropped 0.9 percent to $5.9 billion in the quarter, that beat analysts' $5.81 billion average projection. Net income rose to $1.23 a share in the quarter, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said in a statement Friday. Analysts estimated $1.16, on average.

Profit is getting a boost from lower prices for ingredients, such as beef, and that trend may continue. The company said it expects its "grocery bill" of 10 commodities to drop by as much as 4.5% in the U.S. this year, a larger decline than the company predicted in January.

McDonald's, which gets about two-thirds of its revenue from international locations, also is seeking to draw diners overseas with new food and deals. In Germany, it's advertising a low-priced basics menu, along with new double-chicken burgers topped with honey mustard. The company's largest European markets, Germany, France and the U.K., are included in its international lead markets unit.

In March, McDonald's said it's seeking partners in Asia to accelerate its growth plans. The Big Mac seller plans to add more than 1,500 restaurants in China, Hong Kong and Korea in the next five years. The company also recently said it's trying to find strategic partners for Taiwan and Japan.

Same-store sales, which show the performance of McDonald's restaurants open at least 13 months, are considered a key indicator. The estimates were compiled by Consensus Metrix.

Sales by that measure increased 5.4% in the U.S. Analysts projected a 4.6% gain. Same-store sales rose 5.2% in McDonald's international lead markets unit, which includes the U.K., Australia and Canada. Analysts estimated a 4.1% increase. Comparable sales increased 3.6% in the high-growth markets. Analysts projected a 3.4% advance. Same-store sales rose 11% in the foundational markets segment, lifted by a rebound in Japan. Analysts estimated a 6.2% gain.

"Our turnaround is taking hold," Mr. Easterbrook said in the statement. "The ongoing investments we're making in running great restaurants and delivering what matters most to our customers are beginning to yield sustained positive results."

--Bloomberg News

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