In fact, Wendy's did something on Wednesday that McDonald's execs have been unable to this year: express confidence in the outlook for sales in a ruthlessly competitive fast-food environment.
Wendy's reaffirmed that its sales trends for 2015 remain on track from its previous guidance on May 6.
Same-restaurant sales are expected to grow 2.5% to 3.0% at company-operated restaurants in 2015. The comments from Wendy's regarding its sales coincided with the announcement of a new $1.4 billion share repurchase plan, of which $850 million will commence on Wednesday.
Wendy's shares popped 3.5% on Wednesday morning. Over the last year, Wendy's shares have gained 34% vs. a 6% decline for McDonald's.
On the other hand, McDonald's executives haven't provide a lot of details about how they see their latest efforts to revive flagging sales panning out. Those efforts include offering all-day breakfast and a revamped value menu, w
At a May 4 presentation to analysts and media, McDonald's execs failed to divulge details on sales guidance for this year, instead emphasizing initiatives to refranchise hundreds of locations and improve menu quality and wait times. In fact, McDonald's went on to say it will no longer provide monthly sales reports, which through the years have become a key resource for investors in assessing the burger giant.
In essence, McDonald's removed access to critical insight into its business just as it's launching a fresh round of initiatives to pump up sales and employee morale.
Why are Wendy's sales are juicier than McDonald's? Look no further than new premium burgers and chicken sandwiches, a category in which Wendy's appears to be winning against McDonald's. For Wendy's, getting people to chow down on $4-plus sandwiches has helped to support its sale as traffic counts remain under pressure, similar to McDonald's.
Wendy's began the year by promoting its Asiago Ranch Chicken Club, and then featured a limited-time bacon and blue cheese burger on a brioche. More recently, it has introduced a Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Ghost Pepper Fries, which have "exceeded expectations" according to Wendy's.
"What makes Wendy's different, and what makes Wendy's better, is superior freshness, quality, and the taste of our products," said Wendy's President and CEO Emil Brolick on a May 6 earnings call.
McDonald's has been hyping three versions of its Angus Sirloin burgers, and a new artisan grilled chicken sandwich. Wendy's first quarter systemwide same-restaurant sales in the U.S. rose 3.2%. At McDonald's, U.S. same-restaurant sales fell 2.6% in the quarter.
Wendy's may be taking aim later this year against McDonald's revamped value menu.
First-quarter sales for Wendy's in North America were "slightly below expectations," noted executives, in large part to the company focusing more on marketing its premium sandwich options. To boost traffic counts at its restaurants, Wendy's may be readying a series of value-oriented marketing for a range of new options.
"I feel that the area of opportunity we have in our calendar remains the price/value area," Brolick said on the earnings call. "Our sense is that one of the areas that has been more competitive is specifically the lunch day part, and I think that we can do a better job with some targeted messages there in terms of a price point that is more important at the lunch day part to be more successful with that."
Wendy's is currently offering a new $1.49 Crispy Dill Chicken sandwich, which features dill pickles and a cucumber dill sauce.