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McDonald's Bucks Recession, Will Open 1,000 New Stores in '09

OAK BROOK, Ill. --- Companies around the world cut a whopping 70,000 jobs on Monday alone. In the U.S., everyone from construction giant Caterpillar to drug manufacturer Pfizer have slashed their workforces. 

One glaring exception to the current Recession madness is McDonald's, which just announced strong operating results for the fourth quarter of 2008 -- and declared its intention to build 1,000 new stores this year.

"2008 was a strong year for McDonald's," said Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner. "Through our strategic focus on menu choice, food quality and value, the average number of customers served per day increased to more than 58 million in 2008."

Skinner credits "Plan to Win" for a percentage of his company's success. The strategic blueprint was drawn up by McDonald's executives six years ago so the then-hurting chain could focus on what worked best.

Full year 2008 highlights included:

-- Global comparable sales increase of 6.9%, including U.S. 4.0%, Europe 8.5%, and Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa 9.0%

-- Operating income increases in the U.S. 8%, Europe 23% (17% in constant currencies) and Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa 33% (28% in constant currencies) 

McDonald's saw significant sales growth in chicken, breakfast, beverages and convenience. The chain has introduced the Southern Style Chicken biscuit and sandwich to its menu, improved its drive-thru service and efficiency, and tapped into the specialty coffee market.

In Europe, ongoing efforts to strengthen brand relevance generated fourth quarter and full year results. Full year comparable sales were positive in every European market as more customers enjoyed McDonald's combination of seasonal and premium menu selections, compelling value options and inviting restaurants.

Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa posted robust comparable sales and operating income growth for the quarter and year. Strong results across the segment were driven by "a sharp focus on breakfast, convenience and everyday affordability."

"McDonald's begins 2009 with six years of momentum," Skinner says. "A business model that has delivered even in challenging economic conditions and January sales that remain strong...For 2009, we plan to invest $2.1 billion of capital to open about 1,000 new McDonald's restaurants and reinvest in our existing locations."



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