McDonald's Feb sales fall 1.5 percent, less than feared

McDonald's Corp said on Friday that February sales at its established restaurants around the world fell 1.5 percent as customers grappled with economic uncertainty.

The decline in global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months was less steep than the 1.63 percent drop expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix.

Shares of McDonald's rose 1.4 percent in premarket trading.

Same-restaurant sales fell 3.3 percent in the United States, less than the 3.55 percent drop analysts expected, according to Consensus Metrix.

Investors paid extra attention to results from the United States, where the January 1 payroll tax hike, higher gas prices and delayed federal tax returns have hurt sales at restaurant chains and retailers ranging from Darden Restaurants Inc , the parent of Olive Garden, to Wal-Mart Stores Inc .

Excluding the impact of an extra day in February 2012 due to the leap year, comparable sales were up 1.7 percent globally and rose everywhere except the United States, where sales were flat.

In Europe, comparable sales fell 0.5 percent, roughly in line with analysts' target of a 0.46 percent decline.

Comparable sales in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) dropped 1.6 percent, a slightly better result than the 1.69 percent fall analysts had anticipated.

Excluding the calendar shift, comparable sales rose 2.7 percent in Europe and were up 1.5 percent in APMEA.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)