CHICAGO — Executives of McDonald’s Corp. are optimistic the business will thrive in an economic downturn. The fast-food company’s focus on digital and delivery orders is a competitive advantage, said Ian F. Borden, chief financial officer.
“Our expectation is that we are going to perform well in this environment, certainly on a relative basis to our competitors here, but there are different factors at play,” Mr. Borden said during an Oct. 27 earnings call. “And I think there are going to be different drivers. It's this focus on digital and delivery. We do think that those are going to be more pronounced now and the fact that we have scale, and we also have the ability to do what we think at lower cost than our competitors. That's going to be one thing that we believe works in our favor.”
McDonald’s is gaining share among low-income consumers, even as the company raised menu prices by 10% over the past year, he said, “and that goes back to the fact that we are positioned as the leading brand in terms of value for money and affordability.”
“So as long as we continue to stay on the right side of that, we are seeing the benefit, like I said, with the low-income consumer and to the degree that we end up in a more challenging economic environment in 2023, that's going to be helpful to our business trends,” he said.
Net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 was $2 billion, or $2.68 per diluted share, down 8% from $2.1 billion, or $2.86 per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Results for the prior-year quarter included a pre-tax gain of $106 million related to the sale of McDonald’s Japan stock.
Revenues decreased 5% to $5.9 billion from $6.2 billion, reflecting the negative impact of foreign currency translation. In constant currencies revenues increased 2%, according to the company.
Comparable sales in the United States increased by 6.1% over the year-ago quarter, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of growth, said Christopher J. Kempczinski, president and chief executive officer.
“Higher average check supported by strategic price increases and positive guest counts contributed to performance,” Mr. Kempczinski said. “Loyalty remained a significant growth driver for the quarter, in part fueled by the Camp McDonald's promotion. A year after the launch of My McDonald's Rewards in the US, we continue to increase digital customer frequency quarter after quarter. Of the customers that have engaged with the app over the last year, about two-thirds have been active in the last 90 days.”
In international operated markets, strong operating performance drove positive comparable sales, particularly in Germany, Australia and France, according to the company. International developmental licensed markets delivered mixed results, with strong comparable sales in Brazil and Japan partly offset by negative comparable sales in China due to continued government restrictions related to the pandemic.
Management expects the strong US dollar and continued inflation to weigh on fourth-quarter and full-year earnings.
“Company-operated margins remain pressured by significant commodity and wage inflation as well as elevated energy costs,” Mr. Borden said. “We believe these pressures will continue to impact margins for the next several quarters.”McDonald’s share price at close on Oct. 27 was $265.11, up $8.50, or 3.3%, from $256.61 the day before.