McDonald's June sales disappoint; shares fall

LOS ANGELES Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:42pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp (MCD.N) reported lower-than-expected June same-store sales on Thursday and its shares fell 4.9 percent after the top-performing restaurant chain only matched Wall Street's profit view.

"The problem is that good isn't good enough for these guys," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller, who said as McDonald's shares approach $60, the company needs to show growth catalysts to lift its stock.

As part of its second-quarter results, McDonald's reported June sales at established restaurants rose 1.8 percent in the United States, 4.7 percent in Europe and 0.3 percent in the region that includes Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

That was a 2.6 percent increase for established restaurants across all regions in June when analysts were expecting a 4.8 percent rise, according to RBC Capital Markets.

McDonald's -- one of the few large restaurant chains still reporting same-store sales gains -- said it remains confident in its outlook for the year and it expects July sales in stores open at least 13 months to be similar to, or better, than June's.

"We believe it is essential that investors focus on the resilience of this business over the past year... We recommend increasing positions on stock weakness," J.P. Morgan analyst John Ivankoe said in a client note.

The world's largest hamburger chain and some other fast-food restaurants have benefited as the global economic downturn has sent customers to lower-priced fare, including McDonald's Dollar Menu items.

As U.S. consumers remain under pressure, McDonald's is shifting its advertising toward its core and value menus and away from higher-priced menu items -- with the exception of its new Angus burger, which is being introduced across the United States.

On Wednesday, Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG.N), P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc PFCB.O and Domino's Pizza Inc (DPZ.N) posted quarterly profits that topped expectations, but shares were mixed as investors fretted over their prospects in a lingering recession that is expected to send U.S. unemployment above 10 percent.

McDonald's said it gained U.S. market share due partly to the heavily promoted national launch of McCafe premium coffee products.

"In an economic environment where GDP is declining and unemployment is increasing, we are growing share," President and Chief Operating Officer Ralph Alvarez said in a conference call with analysts.

In the last two years, he said McDonald's coffee business has grown from 2 percent of sales to 5 percent of sales.

PROFIT FALLS

McDonald's second-quarter net income fell to $1.09 billion, or 98 cents a share, from $1.19 billion, or $1.04 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a 1-cent-per-share gain from a license deal in Indonesia and the sale of Redbox Automated Retail, McDonald's earned 97 cents a share, matching the expectations of analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue, which includes sales from company-owned restaurants plus fees like royalties from franchisees, fell 7 percent from a year earlier to $5.65 billion.

During the second quarter, sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 4.8 percent globally.

Same-store sales were higher in all regions -- gaining 3.5 percent in the United States, 6.9 percent in Europe and 4.4 percent in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Countries with weak sales trends included Germany, Japan and China.

McDonald's said the impact of the stronger dollar, which lessens the value of sales made overseas, should abate for the remainder of the year. It now expects currency translation to reduce profits by 6 cents in the third-quarter but to help by 2 cents in the fourth quarter.

Shares of McDonald's fell $2.86 to $55.96 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Chicago; Editing by Brian Moss and Tim Dobbyn)

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