McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

said Wednesday its first-quarter earnings would be lower than expected, in part because of consumer concerns over the European beef supply.

The fast-food giant said it expects to earn 29 cents to 30 cents a share in the first quarter, or 30 cents to 31 cents excluding the effect of currency fluctuations. Those estimates are 4 cents to 5 cents lower than previous forecasts.

In the

fourth quarter, McDonald's missed Wall Street estimates by a penny and earned 34 cents a share.

McDonald's also attributed the anticipated first-quarter shortfall to tough comparisons with a year-ago period that saw strong marketing programs and an extra sales day for leap year.

The company said it expects to return to double-digit earnings growth for the remaining nine months of the year as concerns about European beef diminish and weakened economies around the world perk up. It also said it expects to accelerate new menu items in Europe and a reduce capital expenditures in emerging markets that are seeing an economic downturn.

Shares of McDonald's closed Tuesday at $27.80, and have a 52-week range of $26.38 to $39.94.