McDonald's reported a smaller-than-expected rise in global sales at established restaurants in November as demand was weaker than anticipated in its key domestic market and Japan.
"They're a victim of their own success during the recovery, and I guess one would be skeptical: Are they going to potentially lose share that they have gained?" said Oppenheimer analyst Matt DiFrisco, who has a "peer perform" rating on the stock. "That would be overreading these numbers."
He added, "People are going to look at this as the fast food demand remains relatively lackluster and it's very much in line with what you'd expect with the slow job recovery."
Despite the macroeconomic weakness that has dented overall demand, McDonald's has been taking U.S. market share from rivals like No. 2 hamburger chain Burger King, which is now private after its sale to 3G Capital.
McDonald's has lured diners with low-priced food on its U.S. Dollar Menu, renovated restaurants and, in some markets, longer operating hours. But analysts said the easy comparisons with a year ago were coming to an end.
Worldwide November sales at restaurants open at least 13 months were up 4.8 percent. In the United States, where high unemployment has taken a bite out of sales at fast-food chains, sales were up 4.9 percent.
Several analysts said Wall Street had expected global sales to rise 5.6 percent and U.S. sales to increase 5.1 percent. The U.S. market accounts for about 35 percent of McDonald's revenue.
Same-restaurant sales in Europe were up 4.9 percent, while sales in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa unit rose 2.4 percent. Analysts had expected Europe sales to rise 4.9 percent and APMEA sales to jump 6.4 percent.
The company said Australia drove results in the APMEA region, and sales were positive in China and most other markets. But it cited weakness in Japan.
McDonald's shares were down in trading before the market opened. The stock hit an all-time intraday high of $80.94 on Tuesday.
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