UPDATE 2-McDonald's April global restaurant sales rise; U.S. flat

Thu May 8, 2014 10:44am EDT

(Adds analyst comment, link to graphic, share price)

By Lisa Baertlein and Phil Wahba

May 8 (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp reported global sales growth at established restaurants for April on Thursday that met expectations, as a rebound in Asia helped offset disappointing sales in Europe and flat results from the United States.

The world's biggest restaurant chain by revenue said worldwide sales at restaurants open at least 13 months grew 1.2 percent last month, matching analysts' average estimate, according to Consensus Metrix.

Asia comparable sales climbed 2.9 percent, exceeding the 1 percent increase analysts expected.

Shares were down 0.35 percent at $101.60 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The fast-food giant has struggled in the U.S. due to sluggish job and wage growth and stiff competition from resurgent fast-food rivals such as Wendy's Co Burger King Worldwide Inc. It has also made missteps that have complicated menus and slowed service.

Indeed, McDonald's has not reported a comparable sales gain since October in the United States, which generates 31 percent of revenue. Analysts polled by Consensus Metrix expected McDonald's April same-restaurant U.S. sales to be down 0.1 percent.

U.S. customers have been spending more per visit at McDonald's since the chain raised prices by changing its "Dollar Menu" to the "Dollar Menu & More" last year, Investment Technology Group analyst Steve West said.

But fewer customers are coming into McDonald's now that it has fewer $1 "value" offerings to choose from, he said.

"Consumers are feeling that and balking at it," said West, who added that Yum Brands Inc's Taco Bell chain, which recently began aggressively promoting new breakfast items, appears to have picked up some of McDonald's lost traffic.

The company said in a statement that "industry dynamics remained challenging."

Business dwindled in Europe, the chain's top region, which makes up 40 percent of sales. Comparable sales rose just 0.3 percent, well below the 1.9 percent rise analysts expected. (Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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