Jan 23 - McDonald's quarterly sales fell in what its CEO termed a ''challenging year'' and business doesn't look any better this month. Fred Katayama reports.
McDonald's just can't get more people through its Golden Arches. Its U.S. same store sales fell in the latest quarter despite expanding its dollar menu with items like Bacon McDouble. And those sales slowed even more for the fast food giant in December. Profit was flat. CEO Don Thompson called 2013 a "challenging year." And it doesn't look much better this month. McDonald's sees no growth in global comparable sales. To try to revitalize the restaurant chain, Thompson has been beefing up promotions with items like McRib as well as changing its executive ranks. He just named a new chief marketing officer on Wednesday. McDonald's stock vastly underperformed archrivals Wendy's and Burger King last year, gaining just 9 percent. Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Kelter said "December's results and January's guidance suggest McDonald's tepid trends continue unabated. We believe McDonald's shares may remain range-bound from here." In a bid to appease shareholders, McDonald's said it will return $5 billion to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.