Fourth-quarter earnings from the iconic American fast food firm are likely to be fairly disappointing. Expectations are for adjusted earnings of $1.23, down 12.5% year-on-year, while sales are forecast to be $6.68 billion, around 5.8% lower compared to a year ago. Comparatives for October and November were poor, with sales declining 0.5% and 2% respectively, and the pattern is expected to be repeated in December as year-end promotions by competitors take a chunk out of sales for that month as well.
In Asia we are likely to see a distinct impact thanks to the Husi scandal that caused firms like McDonald’s and Yum! Brands to cut ties to a meat factory that was supplying out of date meat. In addition, a shortage of potatoes in the Japan division meant that this part of the business was forced to ration the allocation of fries to customers, a remarkable turn of events. Overall Asia is expected to have endured a poor quarter as Chinese customers shun McDonald’s in favour of domestic franchises.
Europe’s situation is likely to be affected by currency implications due to the strengthening of the US dollar during Q4, while in the US competitors like Five Guys are taking market share. The shift to a more personalised menu will arrest this to some degree but will take time to become fully implemented.