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McDonald's Corporation : McDonald's Makes a Comeback in November

12/10/2012 | 10:27am US/Eastern

--Same-store sales rose 2.4% globally in November

--Global, regional results all beat analyst expectations

--shares up 1% to $89.33 in Monday morning trading

   By Annie Gasparro and Saabira Chaudhuri 

McDonald's Corp.'s (>> McDonald's Corporation) sales trends improved more than expected last month, as the burger giant emphasised its value menus around the world and reversed a slide that had investors worried.

McDonald's sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 2.4% globally in November, just a month after clocking its first decline in monthly sales in nearly a decade. Analysts were expecting a 0.17% rise, according to Consensus Metrix.

McDonald's managed to restore its sales momentum without any help from the broader economy, which continues to pose headwinds for the restaurant industry. Investors had worried the world's largest restaurant chain couldn't navigate through heightened competition, but November's results reinstated some confidence, sending shares up 1% to $89.33 in Monday morning trading.

In light of U.S. conscious becoming increasingly worried about the economy, McDonald's said in October it would shift its advertising focus back to the famed "Dollar Menu", from a previous push for the "Extra Value Menu", which is priced a bit higher. The company also announced that Jeff Stratton would become president of its U.S. business on Dec. 1.

Same-store sales in the U.S. rose 2.5% in November, compared with the analysts' estimate of a 0.59% decline.

McDonald's, which also outperformed in Europe and its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, has said it would add value menus in other countries too, after seeing positive results from new ones in Australia, France and Japan this year.

McDonald's has largely been able to boost its sales and traffic faster than competitors, with its vast global operations and diverse menu. The chain's "premium" products, like blended-ice drinks, generate high profit margins, while value items draw in customers.

R.W. Baird analyst David Tarantino notes that while "encouraged" by McDonald's latest results, he still expects the company "to experience soft trends against challenging comparisons in upcoming months."

Then again, McDonald's is bringing back the McRib for a short time in the U.S. starting this week. The annual debut typically boosts sales by drawing out a cult following for the barbecue pork sandwich.

Chief Executive Don Thompson said McDonald's will continue to invest in ways "to move our business forward amid today's broad-based economic and competitive challenges."

McDonald's said November systemwide sales, which include new restaurants, rose 3.2%, or 4.8% in constant currency.

In Europe, same-store sales climbed 1.4%--topping analysts' forecast for a 0.10% increase--as positive results in the U.K., Russia and other markets were partly offset by performance in Germany.

The Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region posted a 0.6% rise, compared to analysts' projection of a 0.93% drop. Positive results in countries like Australia were largely offset by ongoing weakness in Japan. McDonald's Holdings Co. (Japan) Ltd. (2702.JA) said Monday that its same store sales in November fell 3.1%, stretching its streak of year-over-year declines to eight months in a row. The Japanese holding company blamed the drop in part on a decision to hold back a price discount sales promotion.

McDonald's expects to report its fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 23 before the market opens.

 --Julie Jargon and Hiroyuki Kachi contributed to this article. 

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@dowjones.com and Write to Annie Gasparro at annie.gasparro@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Stocks mentioned in the article : McDonald's Corporation
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