McDonald's Corporation Earnings: Mark Your Calendar

Shares of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) have been on a tear recently, rising about 39% in the past 12 months and 24% in the past six. After such a bullish run, investors have high expectations going into McDonald's third-quarter earnings report.

McDonald's is scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings on Oct. 24. When the fast-food giant releases its latest results, here are the key areas investors should watch.

Revenue and EPS

McDonald's ongoing refranchising initiatives are driving "choppy" growth rates on the fast-food company's income statement recently, and management explained in McDonald's second-quarter conference call that these initiatives will continue to have this effect into 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately, this makes drawing conclusions from McDonald's quarterly revenue and EPS trends a bit more difficult. But investors may find it useful to at least compare reported revenue and EPS with analyst estimates.

On average, analysts expect McDonald's to report revenue and EPS of $5.71 billion and $1.76, respectively. In the year-ago quarter, McDonald's reported revenue of $6.4 billion and EPS of $1.62.

Comparable sales

Analysts' expectations for strong earnings growth during the quarter likely reflect a bet on high global comparable sales growth -- a factor management said played a key role in the company's 36% year-over-year jump in EPS during Q2.

In McDonald's second quarter, the company reported extremely strong comparable sales of 6.6%. Robust comparable sales growth is likely to continue in Q3, as management said strength in comparable sales was broad-based, driven by higher sales and guest counts in each of its top nine markets -- a first since 2008.

Guest counts

McDonald's believes that growing its guest count is its most important priority. "This is the ultimate measure of our turnaround, as we strengthen and grow the business," said McDonald's CEO Stephen Easterbrook in the company's second-quarter conference call.

For McDonald's first quarter, management said about half of its 6.6% jump in comparable sales was driven by an increase in guest counts. The other half of the increase in comps was driven by price. This was a huge improvement from McDonald's first quarter, which had positive comparable sales driven entirely by price when adjusted to exclude the quarter's leap-day impact.

Investors should look to see if McDonald's can keep up its strong growth in guests counts during Q3.

Mobile order and pay

As part of McDonald's "Experience the Future" growth plan, the company is currently prioritizing mobile order and pay. In McDonald's second-quarter earnings call, management said its mobile order and pay had already rolled out to 5,000 restaurants worldwide and was on pace to be available in 20,000 restaurants by the end of 2017.

Look for an update from management on how well mobile order and pay is going. In McDonald's last update, it said the digital experience was driving higher average checks and helping deploy convenient curbside pickup, ultimately helping McDonald's increase its capacity at peak times.

Overall, investors should look to see if McDonald's can continue to keep up the promising signs of a revitalized strategy demonstrated in Q2.

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Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.