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McDonald's has made the McPlant available across the U.K. and Ireland but no word yet on the U.S.

By Tonya Garcia

Beyond Meat shares were halted briefly on Wednesday after reports that the McPlant, created through a partnership between the two companies, would be a permanent menu item in the U.S.

McDonald's Corp. made no mention of any further expansion of the McPlant in the U.S. during its earnings call Thursday after a Wednesday report that the sandwich could become a permanent menu item drove Beyond Meat Inc. shares up double digits.

Beyond Meat (BYND) shares ultimately closed Wednesday up 7.6%, and up 4.2% on Thursday.

McDonald's (MCD) and Beyond Meat teamed up to create the McPlant, which has been tested in hundreds of locations in the U.S.

See: McDonald's McPlant sandwich, created with Beyond Meat, is 'underperforming' franchisee sales expectations, analysts say

Fast Company has since clarified the details about the availability of the sandwich. Beyond Meat stock was briefly halted for volatility on Wednesday after the report.

"Of course, we've also introduced new menu innovations to satisfy changing customer tastes and preferences which is exactly what's happening now with McPlant," said McDonald's Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski during the early Thursday earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript.

"After a successful pilot in the U.K., beginning in January, we made it available across all restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland. As I've said before, when customers are ready for McPlant, we'll be ready for them."

Mizuho maintained its neutral stock rating and $45 price target on Beyond Meat shares.

"We estimate every 1% share of McDonald's U.S. nationwide beef burger business captured by McPlant may translate into $40 million of annual sales for Beyond Meat and, set against FY22E revenue of $600 million, the relationship could theoretically prove sizable," analysts said.

"Still, it's hard for us to underwrite McPlant capturing more than a low-single digit percent share and overall, Nielsen data continues to raise larger questions over the rate of adoption by consumers."

McDonald's also added little detail about the future of the business in Russia and Ukraine, where company-operated locations remain closed.

Also: Franchisees still operating in Russia have generated backlash. Here's why restaurant chains still favor this business model

"In both countries we have continued to pay employees and provide additional support to them and others in need, but it's clear that the crisis is far from over," Kempczinski said.

"With an ever-evolving situation we are analyzing our options and expect to provide clear direction to investors and other stakeholders no later than the end of the second quarter."

The markets represented 2% of systemwide sales in 2021, and Kempczinski said the closures had a "negligible impact" on first-quarter sales results with costs totaling about $50 million to $55 million per month.

Revenue for the first quarter totaled $5.666 billion, beating Street expectations. Profit was also ahead of expectations.

McDonald's stock was up 2.9% on Thursday and has fallen 5.2% for the year to date.

"Management cites strong sales in the U.K., France, and Germany not only as markets that helped drive Q1 outperformance for International Operated Markets' same-store sales, but also as a sign that demand for McDonald's in Europe remains robust in the wake of Russia's late February invasion of Ukraine," wrote Kalinowski Equity Research in a note.

Kalinowski rates McDonald's stock neutral.

"[W]ith some favorable top-line growth trends despite the array of global headwinds, we view the shares as undervalued versus peer and historical averages," wrote CFRA's Catherine Seifert.

CFRA rates McDonald's stock buy with a $285 price target, up $10.

"McDonald's continues to gain share in the U.S. and internationally, driven by strong growth in its digital platform and menu innovation, and continues to believe the U.S. consumer is strong," wrote Truist Securities in a note.

Truist rates McDonald's stock buy with a $280 price target.

-Tonya Garcia


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-29-22 0816ET

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