Any restaurant company with drive-thrus, such as McDonald’s, escaped the worst of the economic damage over the past year because they could continue to sell food even during the worst stretches of the pandemic. The Chicago company has drive-thru windows at nearly all U.S. stores and two-thirds of stores in its biggest European markets. And at least 30,000 stores worldwide now offer delivery.
Worldwide, same-store sales rose 7.5%, well above the 5% gain analysts forecast. Strong sales in China and Japan helped offset softness in France and Germany, the company said.
Net income rose 39% to $1.5 billion. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned $1.92 per share, easily beating Wall Street’s forecast of $1.81, according to analysts polled by FactSet.
McDonald’s shares were flat in premarket trading Thursday.
Other major fast food chains are seeing a similar rebound as most of the world emerges from the pandemic. Revenue at Yum Brands — which owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC — jumped 18% in the first quarter. The company reported this week that same-store sales rose 9%, with an especially strong performance in the U.S.
Like McDonald’s, sales at Yum restaurants outpaced sales two years ago before COVID-19 shook the world.
Starbucks also reported better-than-expected results for the quarter this week, with sales up 11%.