Investors appear to be interested in shares of McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) this morning after the major fast-food chain announced plans to strongly increase its restaurant footprint in Russia. According to Reuters, the company says it has a "plan to open the 800th branch" in Russia by the end of 2020, an increase of approximately 50 new outlets bearing the golden arches.
The expansion will occur in the far east of Russia, a region where McDonald's previously hadn't developed its restaurant network. Some of the cities earmarked for their first taste of Big Macs and fries include Vladivostok, an important port city on the Pacific Ocean with around 600,000 inhabitants, and Khabarovsk, a similarly sized metropolis 500 miles north.
"Development of a network of branches in Russia is one of the company's top priorities," McDonald's said in a statement. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the restaurant's first Moscow outlet launch, an event that took place shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. The coronavirus outbreak derailed plans to celebrate the anniversary with massively discounted Big Macs, however, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Despite a share value plunge alongside the rest of the market when COVID-19 slammed the U.S. economy in March and April, McDonald's is now trading at the highest price its shares have seen during 2020. McDonald's also maintained its dividend through the pandemic crisis, keeping its status as a Dividend Aristocrat with more than 25 years of unbroken dividend increases.