McDonald's Global January Comps Up 7%

McDonald's Corp. reported a 6.7-percent increase in global same-store sales for January, with each of its three operating regions across the world beating previous estimates.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said a calendar shift for January, resulting in one fewer Saturday and one additional Tuesday than a year earlier, negatively affected same-store sales around the world between 0.5 percent and 1.9 percent.

However, for the more than 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the United States, January same-store sales rose 7.8-percent, compared with a 6.9-percent consensus estimate on Wall Street and lapping a year-earlier gain of 3.1 percent.

The brand also began lapping the January 2011 launch of Fruit & Maple Oatmeal at breakfast.

McDonald's credited sales of breakfast, beverages and core menu items for driving January's performance in the United States. The chain also began national advertising on Jan. 23 for its Chicken McBites limited-time offer, which will be available through April.

View and ad for McDonald's McBites; story continues below

Jeffrey Bernstein, restaurant analyst for Barclays Capital, wrote in a research note that McDonald's performance in January also benefited from slightly more than 3 percent of menu price increases gradually implemented during 2011.

As they do most months, Europe's four big markets of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Russia contributed heavily to the division's same-store sales increase, which was 4 percent in January.

McDonald's said limited-time offerings, promotions of core products and ongoing remodeling efforts in Europe led to the 4-percent increase, which beat Wall Street's 3.4-percent consensus estimate and lapped a 7-percent increase in January 2011.

Throughout the European division but excluding Russia, McDonald's had taken price increases of about 2 percent heading into 2012, Bernstein noted. He added that many European countries' austerity measures enacted in 2011 have not shown a meaningful impact for the most part in the first month of 2012.

In McDonald's Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, or APMEA, division, same-store sales rose 7.3 percent in August. That result was higher than the 6.5-percent analyst consensus and the 5.2-percent increase reported in January 2011.

The brand pointed to China as a significant contributor to January same-store sales, due in large part to a favorable calendar shift this year for Chinese New Year. Bernstein noted that Japan and Australia also had positive same-store sales for the region.

McDonald's operates or franchises more than 33,000 restaurants in 119 countries.

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