McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) may be an identifiably American company, but its business is increasingly global. Indeed, in researching this article, I read a number of old news articles that shared a similar sentiment: "International Growth Should Push McDonald's Earnings Higher."

That particular headline was from 1997. More recently, there was this: "Global Focus Paying Off for McDonald's."

In this series, I look at where a company is making money -- measured by sales by geographic segment. The goal is to see how the flow of money has changed in recent years, and to see how the company is positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities abroad in future years.

1. International sales as a percentage of total sales
First up, we'll look at the most recent fiscal year to see how total revenues broke down by segment.

In 2010, McDonald's had total revenues of $24.1 billion. For the year, domestic sales clocked in at $8.1 billion, meaning just 34% of the company's sales came from the United States. In fact, the U.S. isn't even the largest single segment -- Europe accounted for 40% of sales. Here's the geographic breakdown (data from Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's):

Mcdgeochart

Note that McDonald's breaks its geographic segments out this way -- unfortunately, there's no standard here, so for instance, sometimes you'll see Africa lumped in with Asia, and sometimes you won't.

2. The trend: U.S. sales vs. Global sales
In year-end 2000, McDonald's reported sales of $5.3 billion in the United States. Last year's U.S. sales of $8.1 billion, then, show that McDonald's U.S. sales grew at an annualized rate of a little more than 4% over the past 10 years.

Non-U.S. sales grew at an even-better annualized 6% over the same time frame. Let's look at the breakdowns in the years ended Dec. 31, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2010:

Year

Sales

% of Sales From U.S.

% of Sales From Europe

% of Sales From Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa

% of Sales From Everything Else*

2000 $14.2 billion 37% 33% 15% 15%
2010 $24.1 billion 34% 40% 21% 6%

*Includes Latin America, Canada, Corporate, and other countries.

While the size of the pie has increased overall, the key growth drivers have been Europe and the Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa regions.

3. Go where the fish are
OK, so the majority of McDonald's sales already come from abroad, and as the above table shows, growth in non-U.S. markets has been solid. So how is the company positioning itself to meet the demand?

Nicely. McDonald's breaks down its restaurants per country going back to 2005. The trend has been a decent clip of restaurant openings in the saturated U.S. market, with more aggressive openings everywhere else.

  • Change in number of U.S. stores (2005-2010): +289
  • Change in number of European stores: +624
  • Change in number of Asia/Pacific, Middle East, and Africa stores: +735
  • Change in number of Latin America and Canada stores: +323

There you have it
The purpose of this exercise is to provide a quick snapshot of McDonald's business: How global is the company right now? How has the picture changed over the past 10 years? And how is the company positioning itself to handle future  demand abroad? Hopefully, you now have context the next time you hear an executive or an analyst waxing excitedly about the growth potential abroad.

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Fool.com managing editor Brian Richards doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.  The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.