McDonald's Sizzles

McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) served up some smoking third-quarter results today. Systemwide sales grew 11% to $4.5 billion, while net income jumped 12% to $547 million. Diluted earnings per share came in at $0.43, up 13%. McDonald's again benefited from favorable foreign currency translations, but the company's results were impressive excluding those advantages.

The good news wasn't totally unexpected; the company announced earlier in the month that U.S. same-store sales at its namesake restaurants were up a tasty 9.5%. That's a significant reversal of the 2.8% drop in last year's Q3. For all regions, McDonald's same-store sales rose 3.9% during the quarter.

The company's well-documented U.S. turnaround is paying dividends. Total stateside revenues ballooned 13%, and operating income expanded 19%. Customers are lapping up what McDonald's is serving, whether it's a yummy new salad, extended operating hours, or better service. I, for one, am totally jazzed about the new Chicken McNuggets. (As an aside, thanks to VH1's guilty pleasure I Love the 80s Strikes Back, I learned last night that Chicken McNuggets were introduced in 1983, so happy 20th birthday!)

McDonald's now hopes to take its U.S. success overseas. Europe is McDonald's second-biggest market, and same-store sales there dipped 0.1% in the most recent period. That's an improvement over the prior year's quarter, though, and is also better sequentially than Q2's 1.8% drop. McDonald's will introduce many of the things that have been popular here in its European locations, hoping for the same results.

It's no wonder that Fool contributor Whitney Tilson recently dubbed McDonald's Jim Cantalupo "CEO of the Year." The man deserves all the praise being heaped on him. Given the superior vision and execution he's shown for McDonald's here at home, there's little reason to doubt he can spread the magic internationally. For McDonald's shareholders sitting on a double since March and hoping for more, that's a sign of more great things to come.


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