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McDonald’s sales haven’t been this good since Bill Clinton was president

<i>Nick Kindelsperger/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images</i><br/>In 2021
Tribune News Service via Getty I
Nick Kindelsperger/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
In 2021

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business

Higher prices and chicken sandwiches are helping boost McDonald’s sales. But earnings disappointed Wall Street Thursday morning.

Last year, sales at US stores open at least 13 months jumped 13.8%, the largest annual increase since McDonald’s started reporting comparable sales in 1993, the company said Thursday.

In the fourth quarter, US sales jumped 7.5%, thanks in part to menu price increases, powerful digital sales and menu items like the crispy chicken sandwich and the limited-time McRib, which became available for purchase on November 1. Last year, McDonald’s made McRib NFTs to mark the product’s 40th anniversary.

McDonald’s, along with other restaurants, has been hiking prices as inflation grows.

In October, CEO Chris Kempczinski said that the company expected menu prices to be about 6% higher in 2021 compared to 2020. He said at the time that the price increase “has been pretty well received by customers.” Food away from home got about 6% more expensive last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The pricing increase helped McDonald’s deal with wage inflation, as well as increases in food and paper costs, CFO Kevin Ozan said during an analyst call Thursday. The company expects those food and paper costs to go up in 2022.

Still, the company’s report of $6 billion in revenue fell short of analyst expectations for the quarter. Earnings per share also missed Wall Street’s expectations. Before the bell, McDonald’s stock fell about 2%.

McDonald’s said that its results “benefited from fewer restaurant closures and reduced Covid-related government restrictions compared with the prior year.”

But internationally, sales still suffered due to the pandemic.

In China, sales at stores open at least 13 months fell in the third-quarter because of a resurgence of the virus, the company said. In Australia, sales were flat for the quarter because of Covid-related government restrictions. Sales grew in international markets with fewer pandemic-related restaurant closures, like France, the UK,, Italy and Germany.

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