McDonald's Warns of Severe Financial Blow From Coronavirus

McDonald’s warns the financial hit from the Covid-19 pandemic to its earnings cannot be reasonably estimated as it ponders rent deferrals for franchisees.

Global fast-food giant McDonald’s  (MCD) - Get Report on Tuesday warned that the financial blow from the coronavirus pandemic to its earnings cannot be reasonably estimated because it doesn’t know the duration and scope of disruptions to its business.

In a regulatory filing on Tuesday, the global restaurant chain said it was working with franchisees around the globe to support financial liquidity, but that the unprecedented events that have forced it to close stores - and dramatically reduced customer foot traffic - will have a “negative financial impact” on its operations.

In the U.S., “substantially all” locations are operating with only drive-thru, takeout or delivery options, the filing said. Some locations may have limited hours. In its international operated markets segment, most markets like France and Canada also have limited operations, while others including Italy and Spain have closed all restaurants.

The majority of McDonald’s restaurants in Japan are open, while 95% of its locations in China are also operating, the filing said.

The company said it was exploring various options for its franchisees, including offering some rent deferrals as restaurants close or see traffic plunge.

McDonald's served up fourth-quarter earnings at the end of January 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. 

McDonald’s long-term forecast for earnings per share growth was in the high-single digits, with systemwide sales growth of between 3% and 5%. 

Shares of McDonald's were down 2.02% at $146 in morning trading on Tuesday. The stock fell 15.88% to $149.01 on Monday.