McDonald’s comes roaring back as restrictions ease

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(AP) – As America emerges from the pandemic, it’s heading to McDonald’s.

First quarter sales surpassed numbers even two years ago, long before COVID-19, led by a big jump in U.S. demand. McDonald’s revenue rose 9% to $5.1 billion for the January-March period. That beat Wall Street’s forecast of $5 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Last year at this time stores were closing globally and the world sheltered from spiking COVID-19 infections, so an improvement in sales during the same stretch this year was expected. However, the bounce back has been so strong, McDonald’s topped first-quarter sales of $4.95 billion in 2019.

U.S. same-store sales, or sales at locations open at least a year, rose 14% in the January-March period. Fewer diners visited, and many dining rooms remain closed. But those who did come ordered more. McDonald’s said new products, including a crispy chicken sandwich and spicy nuggets, helped draw customers.

McDonald’s has been helped by its drive-thru service and investments in delivery that it made before the pandemic. The Chicago-based company has drive-thru windows at nearly all U.S. stores and two-thirds of stores in its biggest European markets. And at least 30,000 stores worldwide now offer delivery.

Worldwide, same-store sales rose 7.5%, well above the 5% gain analysts forecast. Strong sales in China and Japan helped offset softness in France and Germany, the company said.

McDonald’s said its net income rose 39% to $1.5 billion. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned $1.92 per share, beating Wall Street’s forecast of $1.81.