McDonald's Not Wearing a Happy Face Today

McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) reported third-quarter results before markets opened this morning. The fast-food restaurant chain posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.43 on revenues of $7.15 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.45 on revenues of $7.17 billion. Third-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.48 and $7.15 billion in revenues.

The company noted that currency exchange effects reduced EPS by $0.08 and that in constant currency, revenues grew 4% compared with the third quarter of 2011.

The company's CEO said:

We expect near-term top- and bottom-line growth to remain pressured as we focus on driving guest traffic and market share by leveraging our strategies and competitive advantages in response to the global economic, operating and competitive challenges. As we begin fourth quarter, October's global comparable sales are currently trending negative.

U.S. same-store sales rose 1.2% in the quarter and sales in Europe increased by 1.8%. Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) same-store sales rose 1.4% in the quarter. But U.S operating income fell 1%, European operating income fell 7% (up 3% in constant currency) and APMEA operating income rose 3% (up 4% in constant currency).

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG), which reported lousy results last night, noted that the average ticket was declining as consumers bought fewer high-margin drinks and made smaller takeout orders. Even backing out the currency effects at McDonald's, the fall in U.S. operating income is telling, and the slowing growth in the rest of the world indicates perhaps that McDonald's is suffering from the same syndrome.

McDonald's shares are down 2.6% in premarket trading this morning at $90.45 in a 52-week range is $85.92 to $102.22. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $99.30 before today's report.

Paul Ausick