Reuters

(Reuters)

McDonald's April Sales Fall Less Than Expected

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McDonald's Corp.'s sales edged down a less-than-expected 0.6% in April, a sign of improvement for the fast-food chain about two months into the tenure of new Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook.

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Shares edged up 0.8% in premarket trading.

In the core U.S. market, sales at McDonald's restaurants open at least 13 months fell 2.3%, in line with analysts' expectation, according to Consensus Metrix. The global 0.6% decline compared with expectations for a 1.8% decline, according to Consensus Metrix.

"While our current performance reflects the significant work ahead, I am confident that we've taken the first critical steps toward positioning the company for long-term profitable growth," Mr. Easterbrook said in a news release.

Mr. Easterbrook took over a company struggling with changing consumer tastes and increased competition at home as well as food safety issues in Asia and economic slowdowns in parts of Europe. He already has announced several big changes in its core, U.S. business, including plans to curb antibiotic use in its chicken supply and sell premium burgers and other sandwiches.

This week, Mr. Easterbrook unveiled initial details of his much-anticipated turnaround strategy for McDonald's. The plans includes selling more restaurants to franchisees and restructuring international operations to cut $300 million in annual costs and create a more nimble business.

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In Asia, a food-safety scandal with one of the company's meat suppliers has continued to weigh on sales. McDonald's same-store sales in its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region fell 3.8% in April, while analysts had expected a 5.8% decline.

In Europe, McDonald's same-store sales rose 1%, topping analysts' expectations for a 0.2% increase. The division was helped by solid results in the U.K. and Germany, offset in part by negative performance in France and Russia.

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