McDonald's sales up sharply for January despite reports of mad cow

Friday, February 6th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ McDonald's Corp. on Friday reported sharp sales gains for January, a full month after the first case of mad cow disease emerged in the United States.

The hamburger giant was boosted by its new ``I'm Lovin' It'' campaign, extended hours and revamped menu items, as well as the weak dollar.

Sales from the more than 30,000 McDonald's restaurants worldwide up 19 percent from January 2003 _ the strongest monthly results since McDonald's began a turnaround last spring in its U.S. eateries after more than a year of consistently lower sales.

The new figures showed that U.S. consumers didn't stay away from the burger chain despite news in December that a Holstein in Washington state was infected with mad cow disease.

No further cases have been discovered, and U.S. officials have said there is no cause for alarm.

McDonald's chairman and CEO Jim Cantalupo said in a statement Friday he was confident 2004 will be ``a year of ongoing progress,'' but made no reference to mad cow.

Sales at restaurants open more than a year, considered a key indicator of McDonald's health, rose 10 percent due to gains of 13.4 percent in the United States and 6.5 percent in Europe.