McDonald's rings up stronger profits on rising sales

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Fast-food giant McDonald's said Friday its profit jumped 23 percent in the fourth quarter last year amid stronger global sales and an increase in customers.

McDonald's reported net profit of 1.216 billion dollars for the final quarter of 2009, up from 985 million dollars a year earlier.

Earnings per share of 1.11 dollars topped the consensus analyst forecast of 1.02 dollars.

The home of the "Golden Arches" said revenue totaled 5.973 billion dollars, up seven percent from a year earlier but slightly less than expected by most analysts.

For all of 2009, net profit rose six percent to 4.551 billion dollars, or 4.11 dollars in earnings per share, topping the 3.97 dollars expected.

Full-year revenue fell three percent to 22.745 billion dollars, while the company served 60 million customers per day, up two million per day from the prior year.

"McDonald's 2009 results reflect the broad-based strength of our global business," said Jim Skinner, McDonald's chief executive.

"McDonald's profitability increased as we marked our sixth consecutive year of positive comparable sales in every geographic segment and generated higher global revenues, operating income and earnings per share in constant currencies - all tremendous accomplishments given the tough global economy," he said.

Comparable sales - sales in restaurants in operation at least 13 months - climbed 3.8 percent in 2009, driven by a 2.6 percent increase in the United States.

The company, headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, said that its US sales throughout 2009 had outpaced the overall quick-service industry and the firm had picked up market share, with easing commodity costs helping to boost fourth-quarter results.

In European operations, Britain, France and Russia led growth in operating income in the fourth quarter.

Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa posted double-digit operating income growth driven by results in Australia, expansion in China and operating efficiencies and lower commodity costs in many markets, the company said.

The fourth-quarter results marked an improvement over the third quarter, when the hamburger chain posted a six percent rise in profit and a drop in sales.

"As we begin 2010, McDonald's January global comparable sales trend remains positive," Skinner said.