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McDonald's Corp (MCD) Q1 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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MCD earnings call for the period ending March 31, 2019.

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McDonald's Corp  (MCD -1.81%)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
April 30, 2019, 11:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Hello, and welcome to McDonald's First Quarter 2019 Investor Conference Call. At the request of McDonald's Corporation, this conference is being recorded. (Operator Instructions)

I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Mike Cieplak, Investor Relations Officer for McDonald's Corporation. Mr. Cieplak, you may begin.

Mike Cieplak -- Senior Vice President and Investor Relations Officer

Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us. With me on the call this morning are President and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Easterbrook and Chief Financial Officer, Kevin Ozan. Today's conference call is being webcast live and is also being recorded for replay on our website.

Before I turn it over to Steve, I want to remind everyone that the forward-looking statements in our earnings release and 8-K filing also apply to our comments. Both documents are available on as are the reconciliations of any non-GAAP financial measures mentioned on today's call with their corresponding GAAP measures.

And now I'll turn it over to Steve.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

We're off to a strong start for 2019. Our broad-based momentum around the world continues as we further execute on our Velocity Growth Plan. Global comparable sales increased 5.4% that's over $1 billion of growth across the system for the quarter. This marks our 15th consecutive quarter of positive global comp sales, despite some of the continuing macroeconomic uncertainties around the world. We also grew global guest counts for the quarter. In the US, we are pleased with our performance to start the year. The market continues to execute against the most ambitious plan in our history. Whilst we recognize we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, we are encouraged with our progress and improved franchisee cash flow to start the year. Our customer satisfaction scores are improving as more guests are able to enjoy McDonald's in our modernized experience the future restaurants. For the first time since we've begun our EOTF roll out, we are seeing a benefit to our overall US sales comp, where 2018 focus on considerable transformation and building a foundation for growth our 2019 focus is on operation execution in our restaurants and optimizing the experience for our customers.

Additionally, our international operated segment continues to show strong performance. Every market in the segment grew comparable sales for the quarter that continued success is built-in plans that have proven to be effective in delivering sustained growth by offering customers their favorite core menu food, drinks, compelling value offerings, a continued emphasis on running great restaurants and strong franchisee alignment. For example, the UK has now achieved a remarkable 13 consecutive years of comparable sales growth.

The market is focused on value, menu innovation and more delivery is resulting in balanced growth in both average check and guest counts, including record high guest counts for the month of March. We're also seeing strong performance in Australia. I visited Sydney and Melbourne last month and continue to be impressed with how the team is successfully driving growth across all day parts. The market has now grown in comparable sales for the past 20 consecutive quarters.

The strong leadership and franchisee alignment, the market is excelling at the fundamentals of running great restaurants, growing that delivery business and leveraging the investments we've made in digital. Our customers in Australia are also taking notice of the effort we're putting in to delivering delicious, feel good moments. Today, more customers are using our global mobile app and looked -- look delivery to order delicious McDonald's food on their terms. And an increasing number of customers are choosing to use our self-order kiosks to place their orders.

The Australian team has more than doubled McDelivery awareness, through our strong partnership with Uber Eats. And with our Barista trained crew executing at a high level both in restaurants and in the Drive Thru, coffee has become the most frequently ordered item on our McDonald's app. The progress we're seeing in the US, UK and Australia demonstrates how our Velocity Growth Plan is working and enabling us to deliver broad-based growth across our segments.

With that, I'll turn it over to Kevin to share more about our top line performance.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Steve. With global comp sales up 5.4% for the quarter each of our operating segments contributed meaningfully to our growth. As a reminder, in January, we evolved our organizational structure to support our more heavily franchised business model, enabling even more sharing and scaling of best practices and innovations across markets. Not only does our new structure provide operational benefits, it also increases visibility into the contributions made to our overall business by both our wholly owned markets and our developmental licensee markets.

First quarter for the US was strong with comparable sales growth of 4.5% and all day parts contributing to the growth. While comp guest counts were negative for the quarter, the US continues to experience strong average check growth driven by balanced contributions from both product mix and strategic pricing. Consumer relevant national promotions such as the Bacon Event and the 2 for $5 Mix and Match deal, which included our fresh beef quarter-pounders for the first time, performed well in the quarter. We also introduced Donut Sticks at the breakfast daypart, and this new item resonated with our customers.

Throughout 2019 we'll continue to pulse in national deals like the 2 for $5 mix and match that was relaunched yesterday. These deals will compliment local value at both breakfast and on the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu. As individual co-ops decide which menu items resonate best with their customers. As we continue on our EOTF journey in the US and as Steve mentioned earlier, we are now seeing an overall net positive contribution at comp sales from our aggressive modernization efforts. This means that the sales lifts from completed projects now exceed the downtime impact from current projects under construction.

During the quarter, we converted an additional 400 restaurants to EOTF. We have now completed over 8,000 EOTF restaurants or about 60% of our state in the US. We still expect to complete approximately 2000 projects this year.

Turning to the International operated segment comp sales were up 6%. The largest contributors in the segment were our big five international markets , Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the UK with the UK and France leading the way. France experienced it's highest comp sales increase since 2011 along with its highest ever market share. The market is successfully optimizing products such as the Big Tasty and Big Mac Bacon along with new promotional offerings. And last month France also began serving our iconic Egg McMuffin all day.

Finally, comp sales in the international developmental licensed segment were also up 6% for the quarter with each geographic region in the segment growing both comp sales and guest counts. China continues to be a competitive market. Late in the quarter, we introduced a new everyday value offering which compliments our Extra Value Meal launch in late 2018. We also opened more than 90 new restaurants in the quarter in China, driving growth in systemwide sales and a gain in market share. And we're well on our way to opening about 400 restaurants for the year.

Now, I'll turn it back to Steve to expand on the accelerators which are enabling our global growth.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Kevin. Since the launch of the Velocity Growth Plan, we've been increasingly focused on using technology to make our customers experience easier and more convenient when they visit our restaurants. From our global mobile app to our self-order kiosks to our digital menu boards, we've established our digital foundation. We've created an ecosystem that more and more of our customers are using to order, pay and receive the delicious McDonald's food on their terms.

Now we're building on that foundation with our recent acquisition of Dynamic Yield, a leader in personalization and decision logic technology. Dynamic Yield's technology varies suggested offers by time of day, weather and trending menu items. Overtime, using data from the millions of customers that we serve daily the technology will get smarter and smarter through machine learning. And using the data collected based on current restaurant traffic at the Drive Thru, the technology will begin to suggest items that can make peak times easier on our restaurant operations and crew.

We've already begun our roll out and now have the technology up and running in 700 Drive Thru's across the US. Long-term, this technology will work across all of our digital platforms, including our self-order kiosks and our global mobile app. When our technology ecosystem is linked, it will provide a seamless ordering experience for our customers and we'll leverage our size and scale to take advantage of being one of the first of brick and mortar companies to integrate decision logic into the customer ordering process.

By acquiring Dynamic Yield, we also have access to strong data science and engineering talents who will help us stay ahead of the curve when it comes to connecting with our customers in more personalized ways. This acquisition is just one tangible demonstration of the steps we're taking to leverage industry leading, innovative technology to accelerate our growth and offer our customers even easier, more enjoyable experience. In addition to using technology to create seamless experiences, we're also maintaining our focus on improving the fundamentals of running great restaurants. For example, Drive Thru remains a popular way for many of our customers to order that Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, French Fries and more. That's why we've never been more focused on improving the experience of the Drive Thru. In particular, the speed of service.

Many of the improvements we're exploring at scale are taken from best practices we've seen in markets around the world . In Italy, having a disciplined daily focus on running great restaurants has helped the market deliver some of the strongest sales performance in its history. As part of their overall effort to strengthen operations they identified an opportunity to improve speed of service by running multiple Drive Thru competitions in the restaurants. With our crew fully engaged, but able to make meaningful reductions in Drive Thru service times and customers are noticing. Our customer satisfaction scores have increased across all categories from speed of service to friendliness to accuracy.

And in the US, our restaurants participated in an incentive program where they competed against each other to deliver the best Drive Thru service times in a fun and engaging way. We introduced the competition in the middle of Q1 and it made a difference with lower service times, while improving guest counts in many of our restaurants. I'd like to personally congratulate our Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls come up for winning our first quarter Drive Thru challenge. But more importantly, serving our guests faster at the critical breakfast daypart.

As our customer's expectations for service keep evolving, we'll continue to share our best learnings like these across the globe. The work we're doing to improve Drive Thru service times is only one way we are ensuring we run great restaurants. Also finding new ways to create more excitements around our customers' favorite core menu items by using existing ingredients, which ensures we do not add complexity for our restaurant operations and crew. For example, after a successful limited time offering of Big Mac Bacon burgers in Canada we launched campaigns to connect with consumers love for Bacon during the quarter with similar offerings in the UK, France and Russia.

And in the US, we entice customers to add Bacon not only to that Big Macs but also to our fresh beef quarter-pounders. The US market even stole shamelessly from our friends in Australia by introducing Cheesy Bacon Fries. This kind of small menu innovation is a great example of how we are able to surprise and delight our customers while balancing their demands for speed of service with the complexity of operating at the scale of McDonald's.

We are pleased with the enhancements we're making to the experience guests have when they visit our restaurants. But we also know how important it is to continue meeting our customer's increasing demands for convenience especially through delivery. Delivery remains a key part of our Velocity Growth Plan, has been one of our most successful accelerators from the start. Likely due to the speed at which we began to implemented and because we began scaling our delivery offering at a time when customers are reaching out less. Delivery has grown to a $3 billion business for both McDonald's Company and franchise restaurants globally and we believe there is a lot more opportunity to grow.

We now offer McDelivery in over 20,000 restaurants across more than 75 countries, which is more than half of all McDonald's restaurants globally. Our ability to continue expanding our delivery reach further demonstrates how our size, scale and convenient locations close to customers, gives us a tremendous advantage.

We're seeing solid growth in delivery and it continues to be a meaningful contributor to comp sales in a number of markets. Awareness remains one of our greatest opportunities with delivery, so we are committed to making sure more and more customers are aware of McDelivery and the opportunity that exists for them to enjoy McDonald's wherever they are.

Now, I'll turn it over to Kevin for our financial highlights of the quarter.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Earnings per share was $1.72 for the quarter, a 5% increase in constant currencies. Our results benefited from strong operating performance, despite lapping higher gains on sales of restaurants, due to our heavier refranchising activity in first quarter of 2018. While we still have some ongoing refranchising of restaurants, our major refranchising efforts are winding down. We grew revenue 2% in constant currencies for the quarter, marking our first quarter of growth since our refranchising strategy began in earnest in 2016.

Given our strong comp sales performance, overall margin dollars increased in all segments and grew more than a $100 million in constant currencies on a consolidated basis. This contributed to our operating margin for the quarter of 42.3%, reflecting growth of 60 basis points versus last year. Our franchise margin dollars grew 7% in constant currencies. Due to a change in presentation of sublease income and expense within the franchise margins, as a result of the new lease accounting standard, our franchise margin percent was negatively impacted 70 basis points. To be clear, there is no impact to our franchise margin dollars as a result of the new standard. But this reset of the franchise margin percent will be ongoing.

Our overall franchise margin percent declined 120 basis points, due to this accounting change, as well as depreciation expense related to EOTF in the US.

Turning to our company-operated restaurants, consolidated margins declined 20 basis points to 15.8% for the quarter. IOM segment company operated margins increased 40 basis points, as our strong sales performance more than offset higher labor and occupancy costs. US company operated margins were challenged due to continuing labor pressures along with higher commodity costs and EOTF related depreciation. In the US, first quarter pricing was up about 2%, while commodity costs for the quarter increased approximately 3%. While we expect commodity pressures to ease somewhat throughout the year, we now anticipate our US grocery basket will be up 2% to 3% for the full year.

Across the big five markets in the IOM segment, menu prices averaged about 2% higher and commodity costs were up about 1.5% for the quarter. We still expect commodities to be up about 2% for the full year. G&A for the quarter was down 4% in constant currencies at 2.1% of systemwide sales. Steve talked earlier about the strategic purchase of dynamic yield to advance our digital capabilities. As a result of this acquisition, along with some R&D investments in other areas of technology, we now expect full year G&A spend to be relatively flat in constant currencies versus last year.

Our effective tax rate was 27.5% for the quarter, as we finalize the application of new regulations issued in the first quarter related to US tax reform. We still expect our full year tax rate to be in the range of 24% to 26%. Foreign currency translation hurt our first quarter results by $0.09 per share. At current exchange rates, we expect the impact of foreign currency to be slightly less for Q2 and then ease in the back half of the year, with an estimated full year headwind of $0.18 to $0.20. As usual, this is directional guidance only because rates will change as we move through the year.

Now, I'll turn it back to Steve.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

In addition to our intense focus on driving performance as one of the world's largest restaurant companies and most recognizable brands, we know we have the responsibility and opportunity to take action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today. Last year, we announced priorities where we felt we could use our scale for good to make the biggest difference in areas that intersect directly with our business operations. These areas include climate action, sustainable base, packaging and recycling, our commitment to families and youth opportunity.

We've continued to make progress in these areas and other parts of our food supply chain by collaborating with millions of customers, employees, franchisees, suppliers and other partners. For example, prior to our scale for good campaign, we set a bold target to source 100% cage-free eggs by 2025 in the US. Now just three and a half years into the 10 year plan, we are proud to announce that the US is already one-third of the way toward fulfilling our goal. This means over 725 million cage-free eggs will be served in our US restaurants in 2019. And many of our other global markets are also in the process of transitioning to cage-free eggs.

In addition to using our scale for good, we're continuing to make a broader set of investments in people across the entire McDonald's system. Together with our franchisees, we provide jobs for almost 2 million people across the world and the one of the world's largest employees are women. As women have strong representation and leadership positions throughout our organization and in the US, make up 60% of restaurant managers, we are committed to making even more progress. That's why by 2023, we will improve the representation of women at all levels of the company, achieve gender equality and career advancements and champion the impacts of women on the business.

We recently announced this commitment on International Women's Day, as we launched Better Together, a sweeping initiative to improve gender balance and diversity. As part of this, we'll put trading and systems in place to enhance the quality and career advancement for women. And we'll be encouraging our franchisees and suppliers worldwide to deliver strategies that promote gender balance and diversity.

Just before I wrap up my prepared remarks, I did want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of someone who played a pivotal role in McDonald's. Last week, Jeff Stratton, former President of McDonald's USA passed away. Jeff was with McDonald's for over 40 years and in that time also run our Global Restaurant Solutions Group, our Innovation Center and a one-time our food improvement teams around the world. He had an unwavering passion for running great restaurants and there was no greater brand ambassador than him. Jeff truly made us better. We always say that McDonald's is an organization built on people and Jeff's contribution to McDonald's will always be remembered.

As I close despite any uncertainties, we have one of the world's most iconic brands. We're leveraging technology to improve and modernize the way we connect with our customers. We have a dynamic menu of delicious affordable food offerings that our customers value and enjoy. We've great suppliers, who partner with us to deliver at the scale the McDonald's. We have the most dedicated franchisees who are committed to running great restaurants, and we have the world's best and hardest working crew, striving every day to delight our customers. When we bring all these elements together, we are confident about the road ahead and we are well positioned to win for the long term.

And now, we'll open it up for Q&A.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you. (Operator Instructions). Our first question is from Eric Gonzalez with KeyBanc.

Eric Gonzalez -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Hey, thanks for taking my question. My question is really the traffic trends in the US. I was wondering how US traffic trended through the quarter and specifically, to what extent the speed of service competition introduced mid quarter helped improve the traffic trajectory. And is the benefit from Drive Thru competition sustainable or does it fall off when the incentive goes away. Thanks .

Mike Cieplak -- Senior Vice President and Investor Relations Officer

Yeah Eric. I'll start with traffic. So we said traffic was negative in the US. I guess, I'd say it's in line with kind of where it's been in the last few quarters, no significant change in trend as far as the overall traffic number. Now, Steve will join to talk about the competitions in the trends there.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, absolutely, I think, I mean just to put the context around why we are focusing on this. As you can imagine the last probably 12 to 18 months that had been -- the majority of the focus had been on the in restaurant dining experience, as we were rapidly rolling out to experience the future. We are focusing on kitchen procedures, we rolled out fresh beef Quarter-Pounders, for example and we just tell, this is the right time, given a lot of that disruptive activity has -- we worked our way through that now, we get back to the basics of focusing on running better restaurants. So we've decided to kick off with a focus on Drive Thru during the peak hours of breakfast, which was clearly an opportunity for us. And yeah, we managed to reduce service times, which was really encouraging. It was a later start in the quarter, but certainly the enthusiasm and the kind of -- competitions was great.

So we're going to continue with a series of these throughout this year. And certainly having been in the field in Miami and Fort Myers toward the end of the quarter I was in Atlanta and (inaudible) quarter. Certainly the conversation among our field leadership and owner operators is they're excited about having a clean run at 2019 because we can really can't just focus the manages the crew at all of our attention, just that the fundamentals of running great restaurants.

So encouraged by the starts policies and Drive True service time decreases. We did see decreases in service time in the US in the quarter. And it's not just the US by the way, this is a global focus that we had a start of the year meeting with all of the Managing Directors of our major markets. And now we are seeing some remarkable results in countries like Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, anywhere between 20 and 40 seconds that taken off the Drive Thru service times but if you're just within that quarter. So I'm just really, I guess I just want to express there is an organizational enthusiasm around this and it's great to being get into these, what's the conversation with each other because this is what we enjoy and this is what we are good at, but we want to get better at.


Our next question is from Andrew Charles with Cowen.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

Great, thank you. I have two separate questions. Steve, it's been very clear since the February franchisee your leadership council election, there is better alignment in the US system between you and the operators and that's definitely evidenced in part by 1Q's improvement in sales. After the EOTF CapEx contribution of 55% was extended November by one year from 2019 to 2020, how sacrosanct is keeping that 2020 deadline for the elevated CapEx contribution to help build on the momentum of improved relations.

And then Kevin a separate question for you. You previously guided that the EOTF benefit the comps was more likely to be a second half 2019 benefit. You know, kudos to obviously for the benefit in 1Q, but can you talk about why the first quarter did impact benefit from net remodels beyond conservatism, the guidance and if you can also quantify the 1Q contribution for EOTF that'd be helpful as well. Thanks.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I'll take the first couple of those questions, because I think there was a third and a fourth part. But I don't know (inaudible), is -- it's been a really constructive quarter. Again, just to provide the context, I think there were full -- I often say, there were full differentiating advantages that McDonald's has over anyone else in our sector. Geographic spread, I think, is one of those, which makes it incredibly resilient. You know, just the iconic brand that differentiated for us. Our financial strength both at a restaurant level, organizational level as well. (inaudible) prices and just having constructive relations with the overall prices and our market leadership is always listed in the stronger position. So, with the newly elected leadership with the National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, there's been really constructive dialog about how do we remove any barriers to growth, so we don't get off, to what we want to just serving more customers and more often.

So it's been a good quarter. I think there has been really constructive dialog everything from unlocking one or two of the opportunities that we can get after the McDelivery opportunity more so. As well as now the local co-ops are begin to invest a little bit more of our marketing spend on a local basis, rather than national. And again to put that into context, certainly the vast majority of our marketing spend in quarter one last year was national as we launched the $1 42 $3 menu. We've actually now swung to a little bit more of an equal balance certainly in this first quarter as we go behind low -- local value and local breakfast support as well. So I think all these things are helping, just get the right balance in how we leverage our scale, but also recognize the local differences as you go around the country.

With regards to EOTF, we did want to ease just some of the financial and any of the concerns operators had around the financial burden of the rapid roll out. So we offered an extra couple of years at a slightly lower supported level, pretty much more on typical support level. But the heightened support in the US through 2020. That just gave each and every owner operator an opportunity just to what we would call level load their projects, if they felt there is going to be too much of a pinch, too much pressure on their balance sheets through '19 and '20.

I guess what's been interesting is, the operators have really appreciated that option, but the majority are still choosing to (inaudible) EOTF projects by 2020. So I would say that we would still expect to be substantially complete by the end of 2020. But those who felt they need a little bit longer have appreciated that opportunity and will support them in that as well. But it will be at the reduced level, probably because you know, by the time we get to 2021 and 2022, we're going to have other ways to other case on our investments support that we think will be better for the long-term business.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And then I'll talk the EOTF benefit that you mentioned, Andrew. We were saying we expected it to turn around mid-year 2019. I guess I'll say there was a little bit of conservatism in that. But we also have been able to reduce our downtime on projects as we've gotten into 2019. I think last year, I talked about that there were a few things we were looking at. One, to be able to reduce downtime a little bit. And two to be able to have kind of grand reopening plan so that when restaurants came back up, they were able to recover the sales quicker. And we've done a little bit better job on each of those.

And so the fact that we had about 400 projects in the US now in the first quarter, and having all those projects that were completed in 2018, certainly made it a net positive as we got into the first quarter. We would expect that net positive to continue now on going for the rest of the year. We don't want to quantify each quarter's benefit because we don't want to get into a quarter-by-quarter benefit, effectively built into now our ongoing business. But we do expect that to continue for the rest of the year now.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

But just to add on to -- again just to emphasize the remarkable speed with which we completed projects in 2018 was clearly incredibly hard work. But what it means is now, as we turned into this year, you've got more than 50-50 chance of visiting a modern looking McDonald's that represents the direction we're heading into as opposed to reflecting on the past. So we're over the halfway mark , which is we have noticed from other markets around the world. Once you cross that kind of 50% as I say, just from an everyday customer experience, as more challenging when we go into a great looking McDonald's restaurant, where the service experience is smoother, the technology is more supportive in helping you through all that. So we feel good about where we're at and we still completed this 400 projects this quarter. So it still feel a lot rough to good start this year.

Unidentified Speaker --

Our next question is from John Glass with Morgan Stanley.

John Glass -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thanks, and thanks for sharing the news on Jeff is that as it is. The -- my question is, a couple of things. One is, Kevin is there a way to think about margins in the US and how they progress last year margins step down in the back half due to some of the EOTF impacts. Is that -- so should we think about it is that pressure eases in the back half or do you think about this is the new run rate for US margins. That's question number one.

And then two, you did take up your G&A, and I understand why this year. Is this the right new base level to run G&A at then in that kind of grows from this new -- I don't know, whatever it is $2.2 billion level if that's where it ends up in 2019.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Okay. John, I'll take both of those. I assume when you say margin we're talking about the company-operated margins on the US sites. I'll talk about, I guess, well, maybe I'll talk about this I wasn't sure actually. On the company-operated side, we have a few things going on as you know. Commodity costs were up about 3% in the first quarter. We've said that will be about 2 to 3 for the year, so that should get a little bit better as the year goes on, but not using (inaudible). The other things that we do have, as we went into this year, we talked about depreciation from the company-operated EOTF projects is being about $15 million for the year. So obviously, about a quarter of that is going to hit each quarter.

And then certainly kind of wage pressures are going to continue to impact us. I'd say the one piece where there is some opportunity going forward is on labor productivity side. There are two things right now that are negatively impacting or have been negatively impacting labor productivity, one being the EOTF projects that we've had and so as those company operated projects start winding down, that should help some of our productivity. We will finish all of the company-operated EOTF projects this year. So that will be a help as we move forward.

And the other is the fact that guest counts are still negative. With negative guest counts that does create a challenge, just from the labor productivity side. And so I think if once we're able to turn guest counts positive that will help the labor productivity side also. The other thing I would just note, I guess, is the Company-operated comp sales are a little bit lower than our overall comp sales. And so the four and a half that we reported for the US based on where we run our Company-operated restaurants and the challenging geographies there, we haven't actually achieved that-we didn't achieve that four and a half on the Company-operated side. That put a little bit more pressure on the Company operated margins also.

The plus of that is, I know you guys often look at Company-operated margins as a proxy, if you will, for how the franchisees are doing. The franchisees cash flow has been up every month for the last five months through March. So that's a big positive from our franchisees side, as you know with -- us running about 95% franchised in the US, that's really important for our business and so that's a big positive.

And the franchise margin side there's two things that impacted our franchise margin percentage this quarter. One is the EOTF depreciation, again, we talked about it as we entered the year, there's about a $100 million of pressure from EOTF depreciation on the franchise margins. So again about a quarter of that hits (ph) each quarter. Second is the change in the way we present sublease income and expense as a result of the new lease standard. So that impacted US franchise margins by about 130 basis points. It doesn't impact the dollars, because the offset to that is revenue. So effectively, there's about $20 million or so that we now just grows up revenue and grows up franchise costs but it does reduce that franchise margin percentage if you work through the math.

So those are the margins. On the G&A side, we talked about, and I mentioned in my script obviously, two things are impacting G&A this year. The biggest one obviously is the acquisition of Dynamic Yield. Along with that though, we have also started investing in some R&D and a few other areas of technology and the combination of those is what has caused our revision in guidance. The plus is over the last few years, we have saved on a gross basis over $600 million and so we reduced the amount of kind of maintenance run the day-to-day business G&A and now we are investing a bigger percentage of our G&A in growth based G&A.

Moving forward, the way we think about G&A is it should be roughly around 2% of systemwide sales or so. So that's the way we think of it on a go-forward basis.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

And John, I just wanted to thank -- give you comments on Jeff. I know many of you on this call were at time -- time with Jeff-- I was honored to attend the funeral Mass yesterday, but the occasion was an absolute testament to the memory and the celebrational, all that Jeff contributed to life in general, all of our lives and just as a reflection on just the way that we believe in the uniqueness of the McDonald's family, the turnout of owner-operators, suppliers and colleagues, past and present was just absolutely enormous yesterday and again speaks to the three-legged stool and the impact Jeff had. So thank you for your comment on that, appreciate it.


Our next question is from Matt DiFrisco with Guggenheim.

Matthew DiFrisco -- Guggenheim -- Analyst

Thank you. Can you guys speak to a little bit on the delivery side, I'm just looking at how much perhaps was from that 3 billion incremental stemming from the US? I'm trying to figure out the percentage, but you're doing in delivering now I know, last time we spoke I think it was still coming in around 70% incremental. I'm wondering if that rate has come down a little bit because obviously the comp was very strong. I'm just curious, though if it's around that almost 10% level or so or $1 billion of your system sales, that -- perhaps that's, -- is that the majority of the comp and is the incrementality maybe slowing a little bit from that 70% level?

Mike Cieplak -- Senior Vice President and Investor Relations Officer

Thanks, Matt. So again broader commentary on delivery. We certainly have been finding in these initial first couple of years that majority of that business is incremental and the growth and even the year-on-year growth once we have got it established is really driven by raising consumer awareness. And then just getting more people familiar with the fact that we offer delivery in the first place that incrementality stays strong. It's probably fair to say that we got a quicker lead on delivery in many of our international and maturity national markets, the likes of UK, Australia, France, Canada and a number of our mid-sized markets, doing some pretty strong numbers as well with Netherlands and Belgium and Spain and Italy.

So they are now actually beginning to comp themselves and not only we are adding new restaurants as the third-party operators expand their networks, but we're also beginning to get the year-on-year comp on delivery as well. So we can track that and we are getting some really, really encouraging numbers as we get into that second year. So even those that came out of the traps really, really strong. We're getting comp delivery growth as well as adding new incremental restaurants which is great.

It's fair to say we had a slightly slower start in the US. So it's begun to contribute to the comp as we worked our way through '18 but not in a particularly significant fashion. But as we've been working with Uber Eats in particular on coverage and trying to get as competitive a deal that both supports the partnership with deliveries but also helps the unit economics for our owner operators, we believe that we are on the verge of unlocking some of that delivering potential more (ph) within the US. So while we have a good number of restaurants upon delivery in the US, the actual guest counts per restaurant per day is still some way behind elsewhere in the world, but we are confident that we are going to more rapidly, pick up the pace and I think you can expect to see as we get a critical mass on our system, more marketing support behind it, so that we can raise consumer awareness and certainly the owner operator support will be noticeable because I know they feel we have a great series of conversations through this quarter and we made it more economically exciting for them to [inaudible] their delivery business as well as their traditional business.

So we feel we're in a good place. From a $3 billion business to date, we still think there is substantial growth opportunity ahead, i am not going to show you, from a global perspective as well as drive-through service times being one of the KPIs I personally have chosen to lead through this year. i am really maximizing this delivery opportunity is another one as well. So we've got great level of focus on it and certainly excited that the US system has got a renewed vigor behind that as well.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

And so, just to confirm delivery was not the majority of the comp in the US.

Matthew DiFrisco -- Guggenheim -- Analyst



Our next question is from Brian Bittner with Oppenheimer.

Brian Bittner -- Oppenheimer -- Analyst

Thank you. Stephen, in previous quarters you've talked about how your breakfast business in the US has been a drag on the US comp. The question is that this daypart (ph) show a meaningful improvement as we went into the first quarter, did it contribute meaningfully to the overall improving trends in the US. So, any color on breakfast will be great. And Kevin, you talked about the costs on the food basket in the US going from one to two to two to three, can you just give us some more color on what drove that change in your expectations?

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So, breakfast was a meaningful contributor. I wouldn't say it is a majority contributor but it was a meaningful positive contribution to like-for-like sales in the quarter, which is, yeah, clearly an encouraging reversal of the previous trends that we had acknowledged. We are still in the market share fight overall because there are more and more people offering breakfast as a competitive place but certainly to get back on to that growth trajectory is encouraging.

The other piece I would say is it really wasn't until back end of the quarter, that the shift from national to local marketing dollars really begun to take effect. See that was a decision that was made toward the end of quarter four. So it takes you certainly a couple of months to adjust media buying plans, marketing plans as well. So I think we feel encouraged. I know that the focus on just the rush on operation and in particular the drive through played a positive role in that. Introducing new menu item news like the Donut Sticks further supporting the McCafe investments we've made. They all started to contribute to that sort of operations, menu items and media [inaudible] marketing.

So I think it was a strong start to the year, but we still got more work to do. We really want to be taking share back at that important daypart for us.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And then, Brian, related to the change in commodity guidance for the year from one to two to two to three, the biggest change is due to an increase -- expected increase in pork prices a little bit and beef being a little bit higher than we originally anticipated, but most of it is related to pork prices.


Our next question is from David Tarantino with Baird.

David Tarantino -- Baird -- Analyst

Hi, good morning and congrats on a great start to the year. My questions on the US comp and the average check growth in the US, I think if I heard Kevin correctly, the traffic trend didn't change much from Q4 to Q1 which suggests the check growth did accelerate. So I guess the two parts to my question are one-do I have that right. And then secondly, what drove that and what do you think the sustainability of that high check growth is in the US? Thanks.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

I will have the first out of that one, David. So, yes, average check growth helps cover up a -- still think the continuing decline that we recognize in guest counts. So the average check growth is strong. Clearly what we do is drill into that and see where is that growth coming from and it's a combination between product mix shifts and pricing and what I think is encouraging for us is that the product mix shifts, which is how many items in the bundle, and also what people are choosing to buy outweighs the pricing impact.

You don't want the pricing to get too far away and Kevin may want to talk about our pricing levels, but if you think about the product mix shift, whether that was -- as we grow the delivery business, for example, the average check is 1.5 times to 2 times that of a traditional in restaurants average check, so that will naturally help to skew the average check higher. As we continue to build customers using the self-order kiosks we tend to get a higher average check because people dwell a little longer in the self order kiosks. And then you have got some of the menu items what we've done in terms of maybe simple things just like adding bacon, the bacon promotion through Big Mac on their quarter pounders, how we just grow average check a little as well.

So all these activities that we've invested in or that we've built have helped grow the product mix shift overall.

So I'm encouraged because you don't want the pricing element to be overly dominant in this year, particularly when customers are still feeling the pinch a little bit. But I believe it's combination of many of the actions that we've taken have actually started to produce a healthy growth in average check. And that is what I think -- we feel [inaudible] can be more sustainable.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

That covered everything I was going to say. So I don't have anything else to add.


Our next question is from Jeff Bernstein with Barclays.

Jeffrey Bernstein -- Barclays -- Analyst

Great, thank you very much. Maybe two-part question on US profitability. The first on the labor inflation. Wondering if you can give any kind of color, similar to what you gave on commodities in terms of the basket and how much of it is statutory versus market pressure and how you are suggesting the franchisees absorb that? Which kind of feeds into the other question which is just you mentioned franchisee profitability is now up five, I believe consecutive months. Just wondering if you'd opine on what you think the outlook is for 2019 and whether there's any initiatives you've offered in terms of how to better protect against that labor inflation and the rising costs you just mentioned. Thank you.

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I'll start. There were 20 or 21 states that increased wages I think at the beginning of the year. So that's certainly has an impact on wage rates throughout the year. As you know we set wages for the company-operated. Obviously the franchisees each of their -- they make their own decisions related to wage rates. It depends where in the country as far as what the rates are and how competitive it is with other key competitors around there. So, but it is fair to say that I think labor inflation is going to continue to be a challenge.

We will continue to look for ways to be as efficient as we can in our restaurant operations to try and help mitigate any of that inflation. But I think that's going to be a continuing challenge for us in the industry. So I guess I'd leave it at that.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

The other thing I would add that clearly, I mean our average starting wage now in company-owned restaurants is now more than $10 an hour. So what if we don't collect that data for our own prices. I think it's reasonable to believe that would be a similar-ish number. And clearly, both of those are well above the federal minimum. So as Kevin says, the labor cost is going up certainly far higher than any typical rate of inflation.

So that's something we're very mindful of and yeah we work with owner-operators to help each other just to run the businesses efficiently and effectively as we can. The best thing we can possibly do is grow the top line. That's the best way of resolving any of these cost increases and just make sure that we don't pass any of the impact of that in a negative way to the customers.

We still want to just start the restaurants fully and appropriately. So we are going to up the experience that customers expect from us.


Our next question is from Nicole Miller Regan with Piper Jaffray.

Nicole Miller Regan -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Thank you. Good morning. I wanted to ask about driving delivery orders to McDonald's app and where are you in that process and how is it going, and what are you learning? And I was curious about the economics of it. So clearly there is value in getting the customer data and owning that customer more or less versus the marketplace. That is more of a value customer in that the economics are similar or are the economics still superior just because you don't have to pay the fees to the marketplace? Thank you.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

i will go. So yes, we ultimately really want to be able to offer customers two ways of ordering [inaudible] through the delivery. One would be through directly through the third-party operator, which is currently how they do. The other opportunity we do is integrate it into our global mobile app. We believe we are making good progress. Also there's a fair bit of technology work that has to go on to integrate it and we believe we are going to be in a position where customers in the US will be able to access it through back-end of quarter three this year. And as you say, part of what's important and that is that, yeah, while protecting all kind of necessary privacy concerns clearly, we will be able to gather more customer data begin to build up the better understanding of customers behaviors.

We are kind of sort of segues into part of what we're trying to do with our technology foundation here overall. If you think about lot of the investments we and our owner-operator made in the last two or three years, whether it's in developing the app, self order kiosks, digital menu boards both in-store and drive through, we are now beginning to be at the earliest stages of connecting that technology ecosystem. And why that's important is, it will allow us to better understand our customers and how they choose to experience McDonald's and that's where introducing Dynamic Yield for example will provide us with a great opportunity to smooth the experience for customers in the drive through regardless of whether we know you or not, but certainly as we start to build on this platform, customers will choose to actually share their identity with us. We can be even more useful to pulling up their favorites, maybe building up some form of loyalty or reward for it.

So there's a number of different things that we can do that will further not just sort modernize the experience but personalize the experience for the customers and certainly with McDelivery being something that we can only ever see grow integrating that into our technology, our own technology ecosystem is important moving forward and we are certainly having really healthy and constructive discussions with Uber about how we can get that done and making sure that we still protect the privacy of customers who-because we know how important that is for people.


Our next question is from Jake Bartlett with SunTrust.

Jake Bartlett -- SunTrust -- Analyst

Great, thanks for taking the question. Steve, I'm wondering how the promotions in the first quarter in the US in how they did inform your approach going forward. Looks like the bacon event was successful driving some more premium traffic or driving some check. But you also have a negative

traffic and that's something that you've wanted to avoid or you talked about avoiding. So going forward is the switch back to the 2 for 5, is that an indication that you want to refocus more on traffic? How much does the success of the Bacon event give you confidence in premium innovation for the remainder of the year?

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good question, Jake. I mean this is the continual balancing act or juggling act that we always have in McDonald's and US is no different to any other market in the world. How do you create new news to just continue to be in top of mind for customers. However, not make it so complex that it starts to be a challenge for our teams in the restaurants, and therefore adversely impact customers. So what we've enjoyed about the success of the activity in the US was it was building up on our core menu. So when you can start to use ingredients we already have in our restaurants, our menu items our current managers are very familiar with preparing. It really is a seamless activity, and it doesn't mean we are always (inaudible) to that, it's something new menu news and every now and then you probably read the occasional (inaudible) about one or two things we have got planned in the US in the coming months. There will be new menu news but maybe limited time offers, just to create a bit of a buzz, a bit of excitement.

And our regular customers like trying something different every now and then. But then typically revert back to what they know, what they like. So we are kind of trying to get that balance right between simplify -- further simplifying the restaurant operation. Again you probably read a couple of things we're doing to help make it easy for our teams to get things right in the restaurants. We're taking a good look at the overnight menu and whether that was overly complex and then most of our restaurants were already running a somewhat more limited menu overnight, for us formalizing that [inaudible] guard rails around that, I think it's smart and will benefit our customers at that time of day.

But we would also look at the premium items we have like the signature crafted [inaudible] whether the additional complex? (Technical Difficulty from 1:02:26 to 1:02:37) We've lived with it for 60 odd years and certainly in every single market we look at around the world does the same thing. It's way around, I would, also just like to speak to some of the facilities we have here, which actually helps our teams in the market. We have the innovation center here, which as you know is effectively a very sophisticated test kitchen, where we can run our marketing programs through those kitchens and actually almost do a role play as to what would happen in the peak hours given a particular type of customer arrival rate in any market in the world. And actually see whether the complexity sort of derails the operations. And I can tell you that facility has never been used as widely and fully as it is now. We've probably got 20-30 markets that will go through that each and every year to validate that operationally, we can cook with the exciting marketing and promotional plans that are being built.

So we'll continuously post to it, feel good about the -- and I just feel good about the compensation in the US, the lot of the focus is on running the restaurants and just trying to get better day-in, day-out more consistent, and I think customers will notice the difference.


As we near the top area of time for one more question from Greg Frankfurt with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Greg Frankfurt -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hey guys, thanks for the question. The first was, I think you guys usually give your gap to competitors in the US. I'm curious what that was during the quarter. And then maybe a bigger picture question, one of your biggest competitors is implementing a plant-based product and from what we hear it's gone pretty well. And I'm curious how you think about plant-based products fitting into McDonald's offerings, and whether or not that, I mean that would be too much complexity that. I'm just curious for your overall thoughts on that sort of sleeve of products and outfits in the McDonald's?

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I'll now cover the comp-GAAP and then I'll let Steve talk about the plant based protein. I think we've made a decision not to keep talking about the comp-GAAP, every quarter. We feel really good about our obviously start to the year in our first quarter. Some of the competition obviously reported, their comps already, others will do so over the next several days. But what we will talk to our performance and let others talk to the overall industry. So we won't be sharing that. I will tell you it was certainly positive this quarter. So we're not ceasing it or stopping because there was any issue or, because it was negative, it was clearly positive this quarter but we have just decided not to give that number every quarter going forward.

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And on the plant-based question, our ... teams are paying closer attention to it. ... the key for us is to identify the sustaining consumer trends. ... what we do have to weigh up, and you just mentioned [it is] ... is there an additional complexity? And if there is, is that complexity worth it. So we'll stay close to consumer demand, I certainly know our teams there are paying close attention and discussing this among each other and with some of the options that are out there. So maybe more to come, but nothing much to say about [it] in the moment.

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

Great. Thank you. Steven, Kevin, and thank you everyone for joining our call today. Have a good day.


This concludes McDonald's Corporation Investor Conference Call.

Duration: 61 minutes

Call participants:

Mike Cieplak -- Senior Vice President and Investor Relations Officer

Steve Easterbrook -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Ozan -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Eric Gonzalez -- KeyBanc -- Analyst

Andrew Charles -- Cowen -- Analyst

Unidentified Speaker --

John Glass -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Matthew DiFrisco -- Guggenheim -- Analyst

Brian Bittner -- Oppenheimer -- Analyst

David Tarantino -- Baird -- Analyst

Jeffrey Bernstein -- Barclays -- Analyst

Nicole Miller Regan -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Jake Bartlett -- SunTrust -- Analyst

Greg Frankfurt -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

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