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McDonald's Q4 earnings beat expectations on sales boost

Heidi Chung

McDonald’s (MCD) on Wednesday reported earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street estimates during its fourth quarter, lifting its shares in early trade.

Here were the numbers for McDonald’s fourth quarter, compared to Bloomberg compiled estimates:

  • Revenue: $5.35 billion vs. $5.31 billion expected

  • Adj. earnings per share: $1.97 vs. $1.96 expected

  • U.S. same-store sales: +5.1% vs. +4.7% expected

  • Global same-store sales: +5.9% vs. +5.2% expected

McDonalds new P.L.T. plant based burger. (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

After seesawing in pre-market trading, the stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, opened nearly 2% higher as of 9:44 a.m. ET.

The fast-food giant’s results came on the heels of the company’s less-than-stellar third quarter, when earnings missed Wall Street estimates for the first time in two years. Rising competition in the fast food space has forced companies to ramp up menu innovation.

“2019 marked a year of significant milestones for McDonald's - including surpassing $100 billion in Systemwide sales and achieving our highest global comparable sales growth in over a decade,” McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement

The burger giant now offers delivery in over 25,000 restaurants. Delivery drove over $4 billion in global sales in 2019, according to McDonald’s.

“As we look to 2020, we will continue to deliver delicious food and optimize our investments as we further transform the experience for our customers through added convenience and digital engagement,” he added.

On Tuesday, McDonald’s announced that it would be offering two new chicken breakfast sandwiches for a limited time across the U.S. The new additions come on the heels of the burger chain’s announcement earlier this month that it would be expanding its test with Beyond Meat in Canada.

McDonald’s fourth-quarter results come as the world attempts to contain a deadly outbreak of coronavirus. As of Wednesday morning, more than 130 people died and over 6,000 people were reportedly infected with the virus. McDonald’s announced that as of Jan. 24, the company temporarily closed stores in Wuhan and the surrounding cities.

“Staff and customers’ safety is our first priority and we have comprehensive precautious measures being implemented to all restaurant operations and office staff,” a McDonald’s Asia spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in an email. “We will maintain close communication with local health and other relevant authorities, actively implement any guidance by medical authorities for containment of the virus, and continue to work together to fight this epidemic.”

McDonald’s management said on the company’s earnings conference call that several hundred stores were closed in China but 3,000 stores remain open. “China for us is a critical strategic market but it is 9% of global restaurant count, 4%-5% of systemwide sales. Actual impact on business is going to be fairly small, assuming it stays contained in China.”

It has been a tumultuous few months for McDonald’s. On Nov. 3, former CEO Steve Easterbrook was removed from his position after it was revealed that he engaged in a consensual relationship with a McDonald’s employee that violated company policy.

Easterbrook took the helm in March 2015, and was largely viewed as the driving force behind strategies that helped power McDonald’s to strong sales growth in recent years. McDonald’s tapped its USA president, Chris Kempczinski, to succeed Easterbrook.

Shares of McDonald’s rose 18% over the past 12 months, but have underperformed the broader market, which jumped 26% during the same time period.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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