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McDonald’s global same-store sales down 22{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in March amid coronavirus pandemic

A man wears a mask as he walks past a McDonald’s fast food restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Los Angeles, California, April 6, 2020.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

McDonald’s said Wednesday that its global same-store sales fell 22{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in March as the coronavirus pandemic led the fast-food chain to close its dining rooms.

Shares of the company rose less than 1{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in morning trading. The stock, which has a market value of $135 billion, has fallen 11{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} so far in 2020.

Fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s have been faring better than their full-service competition. Transactions at fast-food restaurants fell 40{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in the week ended March 29, while full-service restaurants saw their transactions decline 79{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in the same period, according to the NPD Group. 

In the two months ended Feb. 29, McDonald’s U.S. same-store sales grew by 8.1{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}. But thanks to domestic same-store sales plummeting 13{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in March, the company expects first-quarter same-store sales growth of 0.1{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in the U.S. The company transitioned to delivery, takeout and drive-thru only in the United States in corporate-owned locations in mid March and asked franchisees to do the same.

McDonald’s international markets were hit even harder by the pandemic. Its international operated markets segment, which includes France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, saw same-store sales plunge 34.7{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in March. In its international developmental licensed markets and corporate restaurants segment, which includes China, Japan and Brazil, same-store sales fell 19.4{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in March. 

The company said that its global same-store sales fell 3.4{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} in the first quarter.  

McDonald’s also withdrew its 2020 outlook and long-term forecast issued in February, citing the uncertainty related to the pandemic and its impact on the economy. The chain previously expected earnings per share growth in the high-single digits and systemwide sales growth in a range of 3{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} to 5{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f}.

McDonald’s expects to spend about $1.4 billion on capital expenditures in 2020, cutting about $1 billion in spending due to fewer U.S. restaurant renovations and a reduction in new global locations.

CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a letter to the McDonald’s system that he will be cutting his salary in half, until at least Sept. 30. Kempczinski stood to make $1.25 million from his base salary in 2020, excluding performance bonuses. Four of McDonald’s top executives have volunteered to reduce their salaries by 25{3c4481f38fc19dde56b7b1f4329b509c88239ba5565146922180ec5012de023f} through the same time period.

Kempczinski also said that the company will postpone its virtual global franchisee convention until later this year “once we’ve emerged from the peaks of this crisis.”

The company will provide an update when it reports earnings April 30.

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