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McRib boosts McDonald's November sales

McDonald's Corp. says a key sales figure rose 4.8 percent in November, helped in the U.S. by the popularity of the limited-time McRib sandwich.
Image: McDonald's Brings Back The McRib Sandwich
A McRib is seen at a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco, California. The popularity of the limited-time sandwich has helped lift McDonald's sales in the U.S.David Paul Morris / Getty Images North America
/ Source: The Associated Press

McDonald's Corp. says a key sales figure rose 4.8 percent in November, helped in the U.S. by the popularity of the limited-time McRib sandwich.

The world's largest burger chain also said Wednesday weaker foreign currencies will hurt its fourth-quarter earnings by a penny to 2 cents per share.

Sales in restaurants open at least 13 months rose 4.9 percent in the U.S. and Europe and 2.4 percent elsewhere. The figure is considered a key measure of a restaurant chain's health because it excludes stores that open and close during the period.

McDonald's McRib promotion ran nationally Nov. 2-Nov. 22, although some individual restaurant owners may have extended the promotion until the end of the month. The McRib sandwich, which consists of a ground pork patty, pickles, onions and barbecue sauce on a roll, was first introduced in 1981. It is available year round in Germany but has only been offered occasionally in the U.S., and its scarcity has helped it garner a cult-like popularity.

U.S. sales were also helped by sales of coffee drinks and value menu items.

In Europe, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. were the strongest performers. Rather than value items, higher-priced products such as the McWraps performed well in Germany. Four-tiered menu pricing and restaurant renovations also helped results in Europe.

Weaker currencies hit Europe particularly hard. Systemwide sales in that region were flat for the month, but excluding the effect of currency fluctuation, sales rose 7.4 percent. Worldwide systemwide sales rose 4.7 percent during the month.

In the rest of the world, results in China and Australia were strong, offset by weakness in Japan. In these regions, a value menu, restaurant renovation and services such as delivery and drive-thru options are helping results.

The November results "were healthy but likely fell short of high expectations," due to weak Japan results, said Baird analyst David Tarantino. He kept his "Outperform" rating on the stock and advised investors to buy the stock if it declines.

Year-to-date, sales in stores open at least one month rose 5.2 percent, up 3.9 percent in the U.S., 4.9 percent in Europe and 5.7 percent in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Systemwide sales are up 7.2 percent since the beginning of the year.

McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Ill., has outpaced rivals like Burger King Corp. and Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. in the weak economy partly because of its low-cost value menu items.

It operates more than 32,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries.