McDonald's reported global same store sales fell 1.5 percent during February, just ahead of Wall Street estimates for a 1.6 percent decline.
The decline was attributed to an extra day in February 2012, resulting in a 3.2 percent deciine in same-store sales. Without the calendar shift, same store-sales would have increased 1.7 percent, the company said.
The Oak Brook-based burger giant warned during its fourth quarter earnings report last month that February sales were likely to be down, but that the balance of the year was expected to improve on the strength of planned new product launches.
By region, same store sales declined 3.3 percent in the U.S, 0.5 percent in Europe and 1.6 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division. Excluding the calendar impact, sales in the U.S. would have been flat, Europe would have increased 2.7 percent, and Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa would have increase 1.5 percent.
"While February's results reflect difficult prior year comparisons, we remain confident in the fundamental strength of McDonald's business," McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said in a statement. "We have the operating experience to manage through the current challenging environment and the right strategies in place to grow the business for the long term."
In a research note, Baird analyst David Tarantino noted that many restaurant chains appeared to be reporting February declines, which he attributed to bad weather and tax refund delays.
"We expect industry comps to rebound in upcoming months," he wrote.
McDonald's reported its first monthly same-store sales decline in more than nine years in October. Since then, the chain has faced questions about its ability to continue driving traffic to its 34,000 restaurants around the world. In the U.S. the company has swapped bosses and re-emphasized its Dollar Menu and a raft of new products are expected in the year ahead, including McWrap sandwiches.
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