McDonald’s sales soar as consumers binge on chicken sandwiches

FILE PHOTO: The McDonald’s company logo stands on a sign outside a restaurant in Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris
The McDonald’s company logo stands on a sign outside a restaurant in Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, France, July 30, 2020.
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp on Thursday smashed Wall Street estimates for comparable sales and returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth as more consumers, flush with stimulus cash, were drawn to its newly launched crispy chicken sandwiches.

McDonald’s rolled out its chicken sandwiches, which come in three different flavors, earlier this year in the United States, looking to tap into a frenzy kicked off by privately owned Chick-fil-A and Restaurant Brands’ Popeyes in 2019.

U.S. sales at restaurants open for more than a year rose 13.6%, beating expectations of 9.25%, according to analysts polled by Refinitiv IBES data.

First-quarter global comparable sales growth of 7.5% also surpassed pre-pandemic 2019 levels, with many countries, including the United States, easing restrictions on dining out, Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said. Those numbers trounced expectations of a 4.71% growth.

Fast-food chains have managed to weather pandemic restrictions much better than others in the industry, given their extensive delivery networks and competitive pricing.

The restaurant industry is also seeing some signs of stability as the distribution of relief checks and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions encourage more people to dine out.

McDonald’s also showed strong growth in its international markets, with the UK, Australia and Canada recording a rise in sales. Comparable sales in France and Germany, where lockdowns and restrictions were placed to curb the spread of the virus, lagged.

Net income rose to $1.54 billion, or $2.05 per share, for the first quarter ended March 31 from $1.11 billion, or $1.47 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 9% to $5.12 billion, above estimates of $5.03 billion.