After the close yesterday, McDonald's
The overall numbers were supported by continued growth in the domestic market, which generated 9.9% growth in same-store sales for March. Outside the U.S., however, the story is not quite so positive. In Europe, which is the company's second-largest market, same-store sales actually fell 2.9% for the month, but did manage to increase 3.5% for the quarter.
The company hopes that its new Salads Plus menu will help get the European market back on track. The menu was launched in the U.K. and Germany earlier this month, and more than a dozen additional European markets will be adding the menu in the coming months.
Menu changes have certainly had a positive impact in the U.S. market. To keep pace with the more health-conscious public, the company has added salads and removed its "super-sized" menu items. The company is also beginning to introduce its sandwiches wrapped in lettuce, instead of on a bun, to satisfy those caught up in the low-carb craze. (Burger King and CKE Restaurants'
McDonald's expects first-quarter earnings (due out April 27) to come in at $0.40 per share, which would be a 38% increase from a year ago. This is slightly higher than the $0.37-per-share figure analysts are projecting.
It will be interesting to see how the company performs in the coming months when its results will be compared to the strong numbers of 2003. Even CEO Jim Cantalupo acknowledged the challenges ahead in yesterday's press release. But based on the current trends in the fast-food market, and the innovativemoves McDonald's is making to draw diners into its doors, the fast-food giant should keep performing well.
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Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own any of the companies in this article.