McDonald’s January same-store sales up 2.6 percent

McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCDNews) on Tuesday posted a 2.6 percent increase in January sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, as international sales overshadowed a sluggish performance in the United States.

Same-store sales in the closely watched U.S. region fell 0.7 percent, while those in Europe and in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region both rose 4.3 percent.

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Earlier this month, McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner said fewer people ate out in January in the U.S. to bad weather and that U.S. same-store sales would be flat to slightly down. He said revenue is hurt by about 3 percent per day during bad weather days.

Skinner said despite the weather-affected January lull, the December increase in U.S. same-store sales was a “sustainable result” in the longer term. McDonald’s surprised analysts in January by announcing a 1 percent increase in December U.S. same-store sales after two months of declines.

Although McDonald’s and some other fast-food chains benefited when the global economic downturn sent customers to lower-priced fare, lingering unemployment and falling grocery prices have convinced consumers to eat more meals at home, hurting all restaurant companies.

The company said on Tuesday that the U.S. results still outperformed the overall fast-food segment.

Executives previously said that U.S. sales benefited from the January national debuts of the breakfast Dollar Menu and the Mac Snack Wrap — a new spin on its popular Big Mac hamburger that sells for around $1.50 — as well as McCafe coffee drinks and the premium-priced Angus Burger.

The company said on Tuesday that Europe’s gain was fueled by France, United Kingdom and other markets, offset partly by Germany. The Asia/Pacific region was boosted by demand in Japan and Australia, partly offset by what it called difficult comparison in China.

Last year, global same-store sales rose 7.1 percent in January, including gains of 5.4 percent in the United States, 7.1 percent in Europe and 10.2 percent in Asia/Pacific.

McDonald’s shares were up 48 cents to $63.40 in premarket trading.

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