McDonald's took Wall Street by surprise Monday morning, with a November same store sales report that beat expectations and showed particular strength in the U.S. business.
The news follows a weak performance in October that had some investors speculating about the future of the world's largest restaurant company.
The Oak Brook-based burger giant reported U.S. same store sales up 2.5 percent on the strength of its breakfast business, value offerings, beverages and limited-time offers like the cheddar bacon onion sandwich. In Europe, same store sales grew 1.4 percent, and 0.6 percent in the chain's Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division.
Overall, same store sales increased 2.4 percent, beating expectations of a roughly flat performance. Company stock rose nearly 1 percent in early morning trading, to $89.35.
"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," McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said in a statement.
While the sales report is likely to be a boon for the burger giant, investors don't expect company performance to return to normal levels until early 2013. Winter is typically the slow period for fast food chains, with summer typically being the busiest season.
Baird analyst David Tarantino raised his fourth quarter earnings estimate by a penny Monday morning following the sales announcement. He wrote that while company performance "could remain soft" through the first quarter of 2013, "the November sales report supports our thesis that McDonald's can achieve better performance in 2013 as a whole, with results aided by planned initiatives (including increased emphasis on value plus premium offerings across markets), fewer cost pressures, and less negative currency translation."
The chain has taken a tough stance on slipping U.S. sales. The company's October sales, which slipped 2.2 percent, marked the first decline in more than nine years. Days later, McDonald's said U.S. president Jan Fields had resigned and would be replaced by Jeff Stratton.
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