Fast-food giant McDonald’s says its profit jumped 23 per cent in the fourth quarter last year amid stronger global sales and an increase in customers. 60 million people are now served McDonald’s food daily around the globe. McMillions and millions!

McDonald’s has reported a net profit of $US1.216 billion for the final quarter of 2009, up from $US985 million a year earlier. Earnings per share of $US1.11 topped the consensus analyst forecast of $US1.02.

The home of the Golden Arches said revenue totalled $US5.973 billion, up seven per cent from a year earlier but slightly less than expected by most analysts. For all of 2009, net profit rose six per cent to $US4.551 billion, or $US4.11 in earnings per share, topping the $US3.97 expected.

Full-year revenue fell three per cent to $US22.745 billion, while the company served 60 million customers per day, up two million per day from the prior year. “McDonald’s 2009 results reflect the broad-based strength of our global business,” Jim Skinner, McDonald’s chief executive, said last week.

“McDonald’s profitability increased as we marked our sixth consecutive year of positive comparable sales in every geographic segment and generated higher global revenues, operating income and earnings per share in constant currencies – all tremendous accomplishments given the tough global economy,” he said.

Comparable sales – sales in restaurants in operation at least 13 months – climbed 3.8 per cent in 2009, driven by a 2.6 per cent increase in the United States.

The company, headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, said its US sales throughout 2009 had outpaced the overall quick-service industry and the firm had picked up market share, with easing commodity costs helping to boost fourth-quarter results. In European operations, Britain, France and Russia led growth in operating income in the fourth quarter. Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa posted double-digit operating income growth driven by results in Australia, expansion in China and operating efficiencies and lower commodity costs in many markets, the company said.

The fourth-quarter results marked an improvement over the third quarter, when the hamburger chain posted a six per cent rise in profit and a drop in sales.

“As we begin 2010, McDonald’s global comparable sales trend remains positive,” Skinner said.

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