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McDonald's Serves Up Strong Fourth Quarter on Robust Same-Store Sales

McDonald's posts fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts' forecasts as U.S. same-store sales rise 5.1%.

McDonald's  (MCD) - Get Free Report posted fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday that beat analysts' forecasts, even as sales in the U.S. were more muted in the final three months of the year. 

The Chicago-based restaurant-chain giant said it earned $1.97 a share in the quarter, 1 cent ahead of analysts' estimates. 

Global sales were $5.34 billion vs. $5.1 billion in the year-earlier quarter, in line with analysts' forecasts. 

Comparable same-store sales, a key metric in both retail and restaurant chains, rose 5.1% in the U.S., beating the average estimate for 4.7% growth compiled by Consensus Metrix. Worldwide same-store sales also topped projections.

"Results for the quarter and year reflected stronger operating performance primarily due to an increase in sales-driven franchised margin dollars, partly offset by higher G&A spend," the company said in a statement. "Results for the year also reflected lower gains on sales of restaurant businesses, mostly in the U.S."

For the full year, McDonald's said it earned $21.1 billion, or $7.88 a share, vs. $21 billion, or $7.54 a share, in 2018. Global comparable sales grew 5.9%.

The results were a positive start for new CEO Chris Kempczinski, who took over as head of the company after McDonald's fired former CEO Steve Easterbrook late last year amid allegations of an improper relationship with a McDonald's employee. 

"As we look to 2020, we will continue to deliver delicious food and optimize our investments as we further transform the experience for our customers through added convenience and digital engagement," Kempczinski said.

McDonald's shares were up 1.51% in morning trading to $213.63.