Are Americans Cutting Back on McDonald’s?

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) global sales for the month of April rose only marginally, weighed down by slower growth at its U.S. operations, which missed analysts’ forecasts.

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U.S. same-restaurant sales were up only 3.3 percent — analysts had expected a 5 percent increase. Disappointing growth was attributed by one analyst to the restaurant chain’s new-found thrust on pricier menu items, such as 20-piece Chicken McNuggets, that may not have proved popular with budget-conscious customers still wary of the economy.

According to Steve West, director of Investment Technology Group, McDonald’s may have become overconfident considering its strong performance over the past few months.

Surprisingly, the European business delivered a sales beat, with growth in same-restaurant sales of 3.5 percent, whereas analysts had predicted 3 percent.

Asian sales were hurt by a decline in Japan — the region grew only 1.1 percent, measured by restaurants open at least 13 months.

On a global scale, sales at restaurants open at least 13 months were up 3.3 percent, comparing rather unfavorably with analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who expected 4 percent growth, and by Consensus Metrix, who had forecast 4.3 percent.

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