McDonald’s fourth-quarter comparable sales miss Wall Street projections By

© Reuters. — McDonald’s (NYSE:) has reported fourth-quarter sales growth that missed Wall Street estimates as violence in the Middle East dented its overseas operations.

But the burger chain predicted that it would register operating margin in the “mid- to high-40%” range in 2024, implying an improvement versus the prior year’s mark of 45.7% at the upper-end of the guidance. Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said that the business remains “confident” in its resilience despite “macro challenges that will persist” this year.

Shares in the burger chain were choppy in premarket U.S. trading on Monday.

Total global comparable sales grew by 3.4% in the three months ended on Dec. 31, slowing from 12.6% in the year-ago period and below Bloomberg consensus projections of 4.79%.

Sales in its international developmental licensed markets segment decelerated sharply, due in large part to the impact of violence in the Middle East. Kempczinski had previously warned that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas would have a “meaningful business impact,” particularly as it faces some backlash over its perceived support of Israel.

Last week, coffee house group Starbucks (NASDAQ:) slashed its annual sales outlook because of similar concerns over traffic and sales in the Middle East. It added that the furore over the hostilities had also bled into the U.S., where the company faces protests and boycott campaigns.

Outside of the Middle East, McDonald’s international operated markets unit was led by strength in the U.K., Germany and Canada, although this was partly offset by negative comparable sales in France.

In the fourth quarter, the group reported operating income of $2.80 billion, a 8.5% uptick year-on-year despite booking $138 million in charges related to write-offs and restructuring expenses.

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