McDonald’s February same-store sales up 4.8 percent

McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCDNews) reported a 4.8 percent rise in February sales at established restaurants as strong overseas results offset softness in the United States, sending its shares up 1 percent.

While the weather and high unemployment numbers weighed on the world’s biggest hamburger restaurant chain’s domestic U.S. markets, Chinese New Year celebrations in many overseas markets boosted sales.

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Japan, China and Australia were particularly strong, the company said.

Sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 0.6 percent in the United States, 5.4 percent in Europe, and 10.5 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region.

McDonald’s January same-store sales fell 0.7 percent in the United States, while those in Europe and in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region both rose 4.3 percent.

McDonald’s and some other fast-food chains initially benefited when the global economic downturn sent U.S. diners to lower-priced fare.

That so-called trade-down effect is no longer strong enough to offset a spending retreat by young men and minority groups, who account for a large number of fast-food customers and have unemployment rates much higher than the overall U.S. jobless rate.

Earlier this year, the burger chain surprised analysts by announcing a 1 percent increase in U.S. comparable sales for December after two months of declines.

McDonald’s Chief Executive Jim Skinner told Reuters in February that the December increase in U.S. same-store sales was a “sustainable result” in the longer term.

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