McDonald's Sees Earnings Below Consensus

Fast food giant McDonald's Corp. (MCD) said on Friday that it expects first-quarter earnings to be a penny below Wall Street's consensus forecast, with net results hampered by charges in Latin America, store closings in Turkey, and the lingering effect of consumer concern over mad cow disease. 

McDonald's said it expects to take two charges during the first quarter. The first is for $45 million for the impairment of assets in Latin America and closing down 32 underperforming restaurants in Turkey. 

The second charge is expected to be $100 million, resulting from a change in accounting for the treatment of goodwill. The impaired goodwill is mainly for Latin America, where economies have "weakened significantly" over the last several years, it said. 

The company said the two charges during the first quarter will result in an 11-cent reduction to net earnings per share. 

Even before the charges, though, the company said annual earnings per share on a constant currency basis would come at the low end of earlier guidance of $1.47 to $1.54. 

After a 2-cent impact from a strong U.S. dollar, earnings will likely be at the low end of a range of $1.45 to $1.52 per share, the company said. First-quarter results will be lowered by as much as a penny, it said. 

The company expects quarterly earnings per share between 29 cents and 30 cents, excluding charges. The consensus estimate on Wall Street is 31 cents for the quarter, according to 18 analysts polled by research firm Thomson Financial/First Call. 

McDonald's shares were off 92 cents or 3.2 percent, at $27.78 in Friday New York Stock Exchange (news - web sites) trading. The shares have traded in a 52-week range of $31 and $24.75.