Strong US sales boost McDonald's profits

New York (AFP) –

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McDonald's reported higher first-quarter profits on Thursday, led by strength in the United States and some overseas venues that offset weakness in other markets due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

US comparable sales surged by 13.6 percent during the period, with higher average transactions offsetting a drop in guest counts.

Growth in sales in delivery and digital platforms helped ensure that "our first quarter 2021 global comparable sales and revenues surpassed first quarter 2019 levels, even as resurgences and operating restrictions persist in many parts of the world," said Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski.

McDonald's is "doubling down on digital, delivery and drive-thru to create a faster and easier customer experience," Kempczinski said.

Net income rose 39 percent from the year-ago period to $1.5 billion on a nine percent increase in revenues to $5.1 billion.

Outside of its home market, comparable sales rose at more modest levels in McDonald's international divisions despite weakness in France and Germany.

Strong markets included China and Japan. Britain, Australia and Canada also saw positive comparable sales.

"As a result of Covid-19 resurgence, throughout the quarter there have been numerous instances of government restrictions on restaurant operating hours, limited dine-in capacity and, in some cases, mandated dining room closures," the company said.

"These restrictions are impacting most of the company's markets across Europe, particularly those with fewer drive thru restaurant locations."

Shares of McDonald's were flat at $232.49 in pre-market trading.