McDonald’s Earnings Call Nuggets: Margin Headwinds and Share Repurchase Trends

McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Margin Headwinds

Brian Bittner – Oppenheimer & Co.: I have a question about just your guidance for 2013 for the 6% to 7% operating income growth. It clearly assumes that your sales do recover nicely, but what it also assumes I guess is that you can better leverage this sales growth than you have recently and really increase some margins here. It seems as though that could be somewhat of a challenge. There are still margin headwinds and even on kind of low single-digit same-store sales growth it could be tough for the franchising company margins to really improve. So, if you could just give us a little more color on the confidence in that 6% to 7% operating income growth given what seems to be some margin headwinds, how are you going to be able to better leverage sales growth if it does recover?

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Don Thompson – President and CEO: I’ll comment on this first one and Pete may have something to add. What I would tell you Brian is we absolutely believe that our 6% to 7% operating income guidance is the right target for our growth over the long-term. As we’ve said throughout 2012, we firmly believe that what we have to do is appeal to more customers. We’ve got to appeal relative to top line growth. We’ve got to have a variety, a stronger variety and a stronger pipeline that’s executed in the various markets. We believe we definitely have that going into 2013 and feel better about the robustness, if you will, of that food pipeline. We know also that these are – 2013 is still going to be a tough economic environment around the world. We know this in Europe; we know it in APMEA. In the U.S., we are seeing some signs of may be a slight recovery. However, having said that, we also know that we have commodity pressures and some labor pressures. So, by no means do we intend to state that 2013 is going to be an easy year. However, we believe our target, 6% to 7%, are the appropriate targets. We believe our plan to continue to focus on food and the menu, to modernize the customer experience, to continue our reimages, to continue to grow relative to the opportunities in new markets around the world; we believe those things will help us to be effective in continuing to build the business.

Kathy Martin – IR: Keith Siegner, Credit Suisse.

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