McDonald's (MCD) Feels Comparable-Sales Strain

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Retailers weren't the only ones having a tough time drawing crowds over Christmas. McDonald's (MCD), the fast food heavyweight, also had trouble moving its Big Macs and Happy Meals. Though the world's largest restaurant chain reported higher fourth-quarter and full-year revenue, decreasing same-store sales indicate patrons are choosing to eat out at alternatives.

Global comparable sales decreased 0.1% over the fourth quarter, but increased 0.2% in 2013. While overall comps appear fairly flat, digging into the details reveals a mixed bag.

In the U.S., comparable-store sales over the fourth quarter declined 1.4%, compared to a 0.7% increase over the third quarter. The results show a far steeper drop than estimates provider Consensus Metrix had anticipated, forecasting a mere 0.2% fall. Fewer customers on home turf indicate strategies to perk up sales, including the expansion of Dollar Menu & More offerings and limited-time options, have failed to make a dent.

"Looking ahead, the segment is intent on optimizing current initiatives by strengthening its focus on menu choice, customer engagement and operations excellence to drive sales and profitability," the company noted in a statement.

Fourth-quarter comparable sales in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) continue to be the laggard, falling 2.4% over the quarter, a wider loss than the 1.4% decline seen over the third quarter and the 1.3% drop expected by analysts. The company said the declines reflect weakness in Japan and flat performance in China and Australia and that a focus on accelerating growth across its day menu would aim to rectify declining sales.

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