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McDonald's Matches Forecast

Earnings fall as the tax provision jumps.
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posted first-quarter earnings Friday that fell 14% from a year ago as the company's tax provision nearly tripled and a handful of special items affected the comparison. The profit matched Wall Street's forecast.

McDonald's earned $625.3 million, or 49 cents a share, in the most recent quarter, compared with $727.9 million, or 56 cents a share, last year. First-quarter sales rose 6% to $5.1 billion, beating the $5.04 billion Thomson First Call consensus estimate.

EPS in the latest quarter was reduced by about 5 cents by charges for restaurant closings in the U.K., buyouts in Brazil, and the sale of a market in Europe. They also included non-operating income of about 4 cents a share from the initial public offering of


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The year-ago period had a gain of 13 cents a share related to a favorable tax audit settlement with the U.S.

"Strategic initiatives aligned behind McDonald's Plan to Win are strengthening our competitive position and delivering positive results worldwide," CEO Jim Skinner said. "Performance for the first quarter reflected more customer visits and enhanced profitability as we continued to connect with our customers and increase the relevance of our brand."

"In Europe and Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, our ongoing commitment to everyday value, balanced with premium products that appeal to local tastes contributed to each segment's financial performance for the quarter," Skinner said. "While I am pleased with these results, we remain focused on further strengthening the contribution from both of these critical business segments."