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McDonald's pulls 2020 outlook, long-term forecast over coronavirus uncertainty

McDonald's Corp. on April 8 pulled its full-year 2020 forecast and reported a double-digit decline in global comparable sales for March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it is withdrawing its 2020 guidance and long-term outlook over the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. McDonald's previously expected to add about 1.5 percentage points to 2020 systemwide sales growth, while capital expenditures for the year were expected to be about $2.4 billion.

It expected earnings per share growth in high-single digits in the long term and operating margin growth in the mid-40% range.

Global comparable sales rose 7.2% in the two months ended Feb. 29 but fell 22.2% in March, McDonald's said. The fast-food chain said sales started to decline during the second half of March due to the virus outbreak that has shut restaurants and kept consumers at home.

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McDonald's registered a 34.7% decline in same-store sales in international markets during March. Sales dropped 3.4% in the first quarter ended March 31.

"This unprecedented situation is changing the world we live in, and we will need to adapt to a new reality in its aftermath," McDonald's President and CEO Christopher Kempczinski said in a statement.

Kempczinski will take a voluntary cut of 50% in his base salary, while other named executive officers will take a 25% cut in their pay from April 15 until at least September 30, the company said.

McDonald's secured $6.5 billion of new financing during the first quarter and suspended its share repurchase program to preserve its financial flexibility. It expects to reduce its capital expenditures by about $1 billion for 2020.

The company has closed restaurants or limited its operations to takeout and delivery in its markets over the outbreak. About 75% of its restaurants are currently operational.