July 23, 2012 / 12:13 PM / 6 years ago

McDonald's second-quarter profit falls, shares slide

(Reuters) - McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Monday, hurt by a weakening global economy and the impact of a stronger dollar, and said sales growth at established restaurants would slow this month.

A McDonald's restaurant's drive-thru sign is pictured in Los Angeles April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The rare profit miss from the world’s biggest hamburger chain showed the sluggish U.S. economy and Europe’s belt tightening are pinching even the most resilient restaurant operators, as diners limit spending for meals away from home.

“We’re seeing more markets that are having consumer confidence issues ... It’s a little more than a European cold, if you would,” McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson said on a conference call with analysts.

Shares in McDonald’s, which has stepped up advertising for its low-priced food to keep customers coming through its doors, fell $2.64, or 2.9 percent, to close at $88.94 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock hit all-time highs of over $100 earlier this year as it outperformed rivals and consolidated market share.

McDonald’s results came days after Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N), one of the best-performing restaurant chains, surprised investors by saying the lethargic U.S. recovery had cooled same-restaurant sales growth, adding to concerns about how much consumers were cutting back on discretionary spending.

“We knew it was going to be a tough quarter going in, and it certainly was,” Edward Jones analyst Jack Russo said.

“This year is going to be a challenge for the chain. Europe (its biggest market for sales) has slowed down, and the consumer remains pretty frugal,” Russo said.

Closely watched global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months decelerated during the month of June — increasing 4.4 percent versus 7.7 percent a year earlier.

Net income fell 4.5 percent to $1.35 billion, or $1.32 per share, for the second quarter. The impact of the stronger dollar — which lessens the value of sales overseas for U.S. companies — cut 7 cents a share from earnings in the latest quarter, the company said. Higher taxes and costs related to a large sales meeting and its Olympics sponsorship also weighed on profits.

Earnings per share missed analysts’ average estimate by 5 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. It has been at least four years since McDonald’s earnings missed Wall Street’s quarterly EPS estimate, analysts said.

Total revenue edged up to $6.92 billion, from $6.91 billion a year earlier.

Overall sales at established restaurants rose 3.7 percent in the second quarter, exceeding the 2.9 percent increase expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix.

Advertising helped the company beat sales expectations for Europe in the quarter, when U.S. restaurant margins took a hit as McDonald’s competitors put more focus on lower-cost value menus, analysts said.

“You are starting to see signs that consumers are spending less at restaurants,” said Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy. “You are also seeing increased competition.”

To that end, McDonald’s said it expects same-restaurant sales to rise in July, but less than they did in the second quarter.

Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at Oakbrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois, said McDonald’s does not control currency exchange rates or taxes — which dinged results in the latest quarter and are expected to be issues in coming months.

“Those two things, coupled with the July guidance, certainly means next quarter is going to be tough,” Sampson said.

Same-restaurant sales rose 3.6 percent in the United States and 3.8 percent in Europe in the second quarter. Analysts expected gains of 3.5 percent in the U.S. and 2.4 percent for Europe.

Results were a bit better than expected at 0.9 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, where Japan weighed on results for the quarter.

Additional reporting by Brad Dorfman in Chicago; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Sofina Mirza-Reid and David Gregorio

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