What to Watch for When McDonald’s Reports Q2 Earnings Tomorrow

Fast-food giant McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) is slated to report its second-quarter financial results tomorrow at 9:30 AM EST. At 12:00 PM, the company is scheduled to begin its conference call.

Image Source: McDonald's

With the excitement mounting, here are some key things to watch for.

What Wall Street will be watching
For the quarter, the 25 analysts that coverage McDonald's expect the company to earn $1.44 per share and generate $7.29 billion in revenue. Here are some quick stats on what Wall Street is expecting and how these expectations compare with last year's second-quarter performance.

McDonald's Q2 Quick Facts

Analyst EPS Estimate

$1.44

Year-Ago EPS

$1.38

Projected EPS Growth

4.35%

Earnigns Beats in Past 4 Quarters

2

Analyst Revenue Estimate

$7.29 B

Year-Ago Revenue

$7.08 B

Projected Revenue Growth

2.90%

Data Source: Yahoo! Finance

In these two key figures, EPS and revenue, it is very unlikely that McDonald's will come in with substantially higher or lower figures than the ones that are expected. As McDonald's releases monthly comparable same store sales figures and there is a large analyst following, the actual numbers are likely to be very close to the forecasted ones. 

What this Fool will be watching
Beyond just EPS and revenue, there is so much more an investor can get out of an earnings report that can hint as to how the overall business is faring. Here are three key things I will be watching.

1. U.S. comparable store sales: In McDonald's first-quarter, U.S. comparable sales decreased 1.7%. Such a poor performance in the company's core market (which accounts for over 30% of overall revenue) was claimed to be a consequence of "challenging industry dynamics and severe winter weather." Many companies used winter weather as an excuse for poor performance in the first quarter, so it will be interesting to see if comparable store sales will be able to bounce back into positive territory without weather as a factor. McDonald's has already reported that U.S. comparable store sales were flat in April and down 1% in May, but June and July figures have not yet been reported.

2. China comparable store sales: McDonald's core growth market, China, has in the past couple of quarters suffered as a result of the now-fading Avian influenza. Competitor Yum! Brands reported 15% comparable store sales growth in its China division when it reported earnings on the July 16. While a double-digit growth rate is a little much to hope for, something at least in the mid-to-high single digits would be good to see. This year alone McDonald's is looking to open 300 new locations in China, on top of the 275 new restaurants it opened last year.

3. Food costs: In the first quarter McDonald's reported a 3% increase in commodity costs, driven primarily by higher protein costs. Management commented that it is expected that this inflationary pressure will carry over into this quarter before flattening out over the rest of the year. It will be interesting to see what actions the company may be taking to deal with this continued rise in food costs, as unlike some competitors, such as Chipotle, McDonald's doesn't have much room to consider a price increase.

And so the countdown begins
Beyond the EPS and revenue figures it will be interesting to see how McDonald's is faring in the United States and China and how the company plans to deal with rising food costs. If I had to guess, I would say that McDonald's will come in a little under expectations based on how weakly Yum! Brand's U.S. operations performed, but in just a few hours the wait will be over, and we will have our answers. 

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