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McDonald's CEO: job losses impact breakfast business

A man visits a McDonald's restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, July 23, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young

BOSTON (Reuters) - High unemployment has had "some impact" on the breakfast business at McDonald's Corp MCD.N as fewer people pick up food on the way to work, Chief Executive Jim Skinner said on Tuesday.

The impact has been inconsistent, reflecting the uneven path of unemployment across the nation, Skinner told reporters after a Chief Executives Club of Boston lunch.

“It depends on the market. In areas where you have extraordinary unemployment, and people are not up and about in the morning, you’re going to have some fall-off,” he said.

U.S. unemployment is flirting with 10 percent -- the highest level in roughly three decades -- and many investors have worried what impact that would have on McDonald’s high-margin breakfast business that accounts for around 25 percent of U.S. sales.

According to many analysts, McDonald’s breakfast sales exceed those at every other fast-food chain.

McDonald’s, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, has picked up market share during the deep U.S. recession as many consumers trade down to the fast-food chain from more expensive, sit-down dining venues and it is widely viewed as the industry’s best-performing company.

While McDonald’s has made gains during the recession, Skinner said an economic recovery would not mean the company would falter.

“We’ve been successful before the recession, and we expect to be stronger coming out of the recession,” Skinner said.

Shares of McDonald’s were down 12 cents to $59.08 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Ros Krasny and Ross Kerber in Boston and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, editing by Dave Zimmerman

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