- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald’s Corp. extended the recovery in its once-slumping restaurants to an eighth straight month, yesterday, reporting a double-digit gain in U.S. same-store sales and improvement in Europe, its second-biggest market.

Systemwide sales from the more than 30,000 McDonald’s-brand restaurants worldwide jumped 14.9 percent from a year earlier as the world’s largest fast-food chain continued to benefit from new products, new marketing, a stronger economy and the dollar’s weakness overseas.

Same-store sales from McDonald’s restaurants open more than a year — a key barometer of performance — rose 6.4 percent from a year earlier. Most notably, comparable sales climbed 10.2 percent at U.S. restaurants — the eighth consecutive increase overall and third month in a row of double-digit growth — and 1.9 percent in Europe, where sales have been sluggish.

McDonald’s U.S. sales have been invigorated since last spring by a pair of successful new products — entree-sized salads and McGriddles breakfast sandwiches — and extended hours.

First-year company head Jim Cantalupo also cited contributions from the menu of $1 items, the new “I’m lovin’ it” marketing campaign and “an improved customer experience.”

Analysts see the gains as likely to continue into 2004.

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