By Lisa Baertlein
Sept 10 McDonald's Corp reported a
bigger-than-expected 1.9 percent increase in global sales at
established restaurants in August, after a revival in France
helped drive solid results in Europe, its top market.
Although the results from the world's biggest fast-food
chain soundly beat the average estimate of a 0.3 percent
increase from 16 analysts polled by Consensus Metrix, McDonald's
shares rose only slightly in morning trading on Tuesday.
McDonald's had a big lead over rivals during the depths of
the global recession. But Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson
recently has had to fight to maintain that distance as resurgent
chains such as Burger King Worldwide Inc and Wendy's Co
tempt still-frugal diners with low-priced "value menus"
and flashy new limited-time selections ranging from "premium"
pretzel burgers to indulgent bacon sundaes.
Analysts maintained their cautious stance on McDonald's,
citing its continued dependence on Dollar Menu sales and
uncertainty over whether new premium items such as Mighty Wings
will draw customers.
"Given the company's mixed results with premium platforms
thus far this year, we are maintaining our current" estimate for
flat third-quarter sales at restaurants open at least 13 months,
Jefferies & Co analyst Andy Barish said in a client note.
McDonald's said new premium wrap sandwiches and high-margin
drinks such as blended smoothies and frappes helped bolster
sales in Europe, where same-restaurant sales were up 3.3 percent
in August. Sales growth resumed in France during the month, and
the company also pointed to strength in the United Kingdom and
Analysts had expected a 0.1 percent fall for Europe, which
just edges out the United States as McDonald's top market.
Same-restaurant sales in the United States slightly missed
the mark - rising 0.2 percent in August, rather than the 0.8
percent analysts had expected.
In Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, same-restaurant
sales fell less than expected, as declines in Japan somewhat
eased. Sales in the region were off 0.5 percent for August,
while analysts had called for a 1 percent drop.
McDonald's shares were up 0.3 percent at $96.70 on the New
York Stock Exchange.