A pleasant surprise for McDonald’s: Better-than-expected sales

French fries sit under a heat lamp at a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Wall Street has dished up a heavy serving of doom and gloom for McDonald’s Corp. in recent months as the world’s largest restaurant company missed analyst expectations, suffered profit slumps and shuffled its roster of executives

But the fast-food giant caught a break Monday, announcing better-than-expected November sales that gave its stock price a boost.

Last month, same-store sales worldwide rose 2.4% after plunging 1.8% in October -- the first monthly slide in nine years. This time around, analysts had expected sales to be flat.


Instead, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company managed a quick turnaround, especially in the U.S. McDonald’s largest market by restaurant volume saw a 2.5% sales surge.

Executives attributed the jump to the beverage line-up, the breakfast menu, value options and premium offers such as the limited-time Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches.

Increasingly modern and appealing restaurants” also helped, Chief Executive Don Thompson said in a statement.

Sales increased 1.4% in Europe and 0.6% in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa category, the company said.

Quiz: How well do you know fast food?

“We are strengthening our focus on the global priorities that are most impactful to our customers -- optimizing our menu, modernizing the customer experience and broadening accessibility to our brand to move our business forward amid today’s broad-based economic and competitive challenges,” Thompson said.

The company, which thrived during the recession while quick-service competitors struggled, has made some uncharacteristic fumbles this year. In the third quarter, its profit tanked 3.5% after dropping 4.5% the previous quarter.

Instability in the upper ranks has also made investors uneasy. Jan Fields, president of McDonald’s U.S. operation, stepped down a week after the chain disclosed its October sales dip. Thompson has only held his position since July.

Heading into December, McDonald’s is now hoping the seasonal launch of its cult-favorite McRib pork sandwich gives sales a leg up.


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