McDonald's shares fall on disappointing sales results

McDonald's said Monday that a key sales metric dropped 1.4 per cent in the U.S. in February, yet again hurt by tough winter weather.

Year-to-date comparable sales down 1.4% in U.S.

The McDonald's fast food chain reported disappointing year-to-date sales Monday at U.S. stores open at least 13 months, known as comparable sales and a key metric of financial performance. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

McDonald's said Monday that a key sales metric — sales at locations open at least 13 months — dropped 1.4 per cent in the U.S. in February, yet again hurt by tough winter weather.ç

The world's largest hamburger chain was also hindered by difficult winter weather conditions in January.

The Oak Brook, Ill., company's February global sales at locations open at least 13 months dipped 0.3 per cent. Company officials said that its muted year-to-date global comparable sales performance could hurt first-quarter profit margins.

Its shares slipped in pre-market trading

In the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region, sales declined 2.6 per cent mostly on softness in Japan as well as weakness in Australia and a shift in the timing of the Chinese New Year.

Europe was a bright spot, with sales up 0.6 per cent on a strong performance in the U.K. and growth in France — but that was mostly offset by continued softness in Germany.

Burger King, Wendy's gaining ground

McDonald's Corp. has been dealing with competition from rivals like Burger King and Wendy's, who also have value menus and special offers.

It is also trying to adapt to shifting eating habits by introducing items that are positioned as healthy or fresh.

"We are intent on improving our business performance by thoughtfully evolving our approach to ensure that we are delivering the most compelling value, service and convenience to each of the approximately 70 million customers who choose McDonald's each day," president and CEO Don Thompson said in a statement.

Chief financial officer Pete Bensen said that the company is concentrating on strengthening its performance, but that relatively flat year-to-date global comparable sales will pressure its first-quarter margins.

McDonald's has more than 35,000 locations in more than 100 countries.

Its stock shed 17 cents to $95.33 US in pre-market trading about an hour before the market opened.