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McDonald's posts first-quarter profit of $1.27 billion, up 5%

Warm weather and new products such as Chicken McBites help boost earnings at the world's largest hamburger chain.

April 21, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • Youths hang out at a McDonald's restaurant at a train station in Shenyang in northern China. McDonald’s said its sales for the Asia, Middle East and Africa region were up 5.5% in the first quarter.
Youths hang out at a McDonald's restaurant at a train station in Shenyang… (Ng Han Guan, Associated…)

McDonald's Corp., the world's largest hamburger chain, keeps churning out profit — this time because of unexpectedly balmy weather and new products such as Chicken McBites.

The Oak Brook, Ill., company Friday posted a profit of $1.27 billion, or $1.23 a share, in its first quarter. That's a 5% increase from the $1.21 billion, or $1.15, it earned during the same period in 2011.

McDonald's revenue jumped 7.1% to $6.5 billion.

Even though the chain is feeling pressure from rising food costs, it so far has managed to sustain a strong sales pace. It has maintained a loyal base for its core burgers and fries while also branching into more healthful and premium options such as frappes, garden salads and its version of popcorn chicken introduced during the quarter.

Global same-store sales increased 7.3% at McDonald's branches open for more than a year, boosted in part by an extra leap year day.

In the U.S., where McDonald's revamped a horde of restaurants amid an unseasonably warm winter, the same-stores metric was up 8.9%.

In Europe, the chain's largest market by revenue, sales were up 5% despite such hurdles as harsh weather and the continent's debt crisis.

McDonald's said its sales for the Asia, Middle East and Africa region — where Yum Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut triumvirate is also expanding — were up 5.5%.

The earning were announced before the opening of markets in New York. McDonald's shares closed up 66 cents, or 0.7%, at $95.94.

It's been a good quarter for the quick-service industry. On Thursday, fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said it earned $62.7 million during its first quarter — a 35.1% boom. Yum's profit soared 73% to $458 million, the company said Wednesday.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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