Sales are continuing to rebound for McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) as COVID-19 related restrictions are easing worldwide. The company's revenue cratered as people stayed home more often and ate out less during the pandemic's peak. Investors will want to observe its results when it reports on Nov. 9 to see how the company is adapting to this new phase of the pandemic, where the recovery may vary depending on the level of coronavirus cases in the region and the local government response. 

Moreover, the company will reveal its progress on major initiatives it undertook during the pandemic that you will not want to miss if you're interested in becoming a shareholder. If you don't look at anything else in its report, you will want to look at these three things.

A batch of French fries on a cutting board.

McDonald's sales are rebounding as people go out more often. Image source: Getty Images.

People like the safety and convenience of McDonald's drive-thru 

First and foremost, you will want to know the company's reported comparable-store sales figures. This figure is more informative than the overall revenue figure because it compares locations that have been open at least 12 months. In the most recent quarter, comps decreased by 23.9% due to the coronavirus. However, McDonald's said in a press release that sales have started rebounding, and as of Oct. 8, they had increased by 4.6% in the U.S. and were down by only 2.2% overall.

Second, shareholders should look to see if operating profits recovered along with sales. Many businesses are reporting increased costs brought on by doing business during a pandemic. It will be imperative to see if McDonald's was able to control costs during the quarter. The company's franchise model should help it in this matter. Of the more than 39,000 McDonald's restaurants worldwide, 93% are run by franchisees.

That does not mean that stockholders are insulated from increasing business costs, especially in the near term, as McDonald's has already committed to spending $200 million to help its franchisees rebound from the pandemic. 

Finally, the company's introduced or expanded a few popular initiatives during the most recent quarter that investors will want to know more about. One of them is the successful marketing campaign with celebrity Travis Scott. The other is the rollout and expansion of delivery capabilities, which is now available at more than 27,000 of its restaurants worldwide. Drive-thru and delivery continue to be a competitive advantage for McDonald's.

In the most recent quarter's conference call, CEO Chris Kempczinski referenced the fast-food company's focus on what it calls the three Ds: drive-thru, delivery, and digital. More specifically, drive-thru is a significant driver of the company's rebounding sales. Markets with a higher concentration of locations that offer drive-thru are recovering faster than those with a lower concentration.

What this could mean for investors

The consensus expectation among Wall Street analysts is for McDonald's to report earnings per share of $1.87 on revenue of $5.38 billion when it reports on Nov. 9, which would reflect growth rates of negative 10% and negative 1%, respectively.

Investors looking into the company's release should do so with an eye on the long run. The adjustments it made to adapt during the coronavirus, like increasing delivery capabilities, might add incremental growth to this consumer goods stock for years down the line.   

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.