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McDonald's U.S. December sales robust: survey

Flags fly at a McDonald's restaurant in Arlington,Virginia
Flags fly at a McDonald's restaurant in Arlington,Virginia

(Reuters) - McDonald's Corp is poised to report robust December sales from U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months, according to a survey of U.S. franchisees.

Thirty McDonald's franchisees -- who together operate 212 of the more than 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the United States -- reported an aggregate 9.1 percent rise in same-restaurant sales for December, Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski said in a client note.

The analyst, whose surveys are closely followed by investors, boosted his forecast for U.S. December same-restaurant sales growth to match results from the poll.

Kalinowski previously had called for December same-restaurant sales growth of 5.5 percent. Analysts, on average, expect a gain of 4 percent for December, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The last time McDonald's reported monthly U.S. same-store sales growth of at least 9 percent was for January 2006, Kalinowski said.

The world's biggest hamburger chain -- which sells everything from $1 hamburgers to fancy coffee drinks and more upscale Angus burgers -- is one of the top-performing restaurant operators and its shares touched an all-time high of $101.86 on the survey results.

While some rivals are slashing costs and hunkering down in response to the weak global economy, McDonald's has been renovating restaurants, adding new menu items and extending restaurant hours.

Kalinowski also boosted his forecasts for the rest of the world. He now sees December same-restaurant sales growth of 8.5 percent for Europe, McDonald's top market for sales, and 7.5 percent for the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) unit.

The company's November same-restaurant sales were up 6.5 percent for the United States and for Europe, while APMEA had a gain of 8.1 percent.

McDonald's is scheduled to report December sales and fourth-quarter financial results on January 24.

Kalinowski expects McDonald's to report fourth-quarter earnings of $1.32 per share. Analysts, on average, are forecasting $1.29 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of McDonald's were up 0.8 percent to $101.33 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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