More Trouble for McDonald’s, This Time in Japan

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In a statement in Tokyo after markets closed on Thursday, the Japanese arm of McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) issued a statement saying that net income would be about $48 million for the year ending in December, almost 50% below the average analysts’ estimate of around $91.5 million. The company also said it will close 74 of its 3,170 Japanese stores. Japan is McDonald’s second largest market.

The company’s remodeling program in Japan is also contributing to the projected drop in net income. An executive with McDonald’s Japan said, “Our competitors are catching up with us. We need to introduce products that meet consumers’ needs.

McDonald’s cannot say it is surprised by this. The company’s dollar menu was introduced years ago and the boost it got from coffee and other specialty drinks is well behind it. At the company’s investor meeting last month, CEO Don Thompson said:

Given the resilience and stability of our business model, we believe that our average annual constant currency growth targets remain realistic and achievable and keep us focused on making the best decisions for the long term.

The company plans to return $4.5 billion to $5 billion to investors in dividends and buybacks, and presumably hopes sharing the wealth will atone for its multitude of sins. Sticking with its 10-year-old strategy has not worked for the past several quarters, but so far no one at Mickey D’s seems to have a better idea.

McDonald’s shares were down just 0.33% shortly before noon on Thursday, trading at $95.60 in a 52-week range of $86.81 to $103.70. The company’s 3.4% dividend yield is hard for investors to let go of.

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