McDonald’s January store sales drop in Asia as U.S. gains

McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant chain, posted a surprise gain in U.S. same-store sales last month while demand slumped in the Asia Pacific region.

Sales in the U.S. increased 0.9% in January, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in a statement. Analysts projected a drop of 0.3%, the average of 14 estimates compiled by Consensus Metrix. Sales in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa plunged 9.5% while analysts anticipated a decline of 5.8%.

The Big Mac seller has been promoting value items and breakfast foods to lure customers in Asia as Japan works to emerge from its third recession in five years and consumer confidence stagnates in China. In the U.S., McDonald’s is promoting its Dollar Menu and testing new items, such as chicken wings, to boost sales.

McDonald’s rose 0.9% to $95.47 at 10:44 a.m. in New York. The shares dropped 12% last year, the worst annual performance in a decade. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 13% in 2012.

McDonald’s January same-store sales in Japan, the company’s largest Asian market with about 3,200 locations, dropped 17%.

Japan Slump

In Japan, “they’re just in a really tough position -- it’s a very competitive market,” said Sara Senatore, a New York- based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., who rates the shares market perform, meaning the stock will perform in line with the S&P 500 Index in the next six to 12 months.

Global sales fell 1.9%, the first monthly sales decline for January since 2003. Analysts anticipated a drop of 1.1%. Sales dropped 2.1% in Europe while analysts had forecast a gain of 0.1%, according to Consensus Metrix, a researcher owned by Wayne, New Jersey-based Kaul Advisory Group.

In Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, retail sales rose less than forecast in December, indicating that consumer demand remains weak. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to defeat deflation and lead the Asian nation out of recession.

McDonald’s has been closing stores in Japan as comparable- store sales have fallen for 10 straight months. It has reduced the number of locations to 3,200 from more than 3,800 at the end of 2006. McDonald’s has been getting away from couponing and discounting, which affected January sales.

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