McDonald's (MCD) has been performing well during this economic slowdown. The company's most recent quarter shows that global comparable sales were up 5%, and constant currency operating income increased 8%. McDonald's earnings per share also increased 6% to $1.45.
McDonald's has been one of a few companies that is benefiting from its well diversified operations around the world. The financial crisis has affected all parts of the world and consumers are opting to dine at quick service restaurants. McDonald's has been a big beneficiary of this trend. In the United States, comparable sales for the quarter were up 4.4%, and operating income grew 6%. In Europe, comparable sales for the quarter increased 4.9%, and operating income grew 6% in constant currencies. In Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, comp sales for the quarter increased 3.4%, and operating income grew 15% in constant currencies. I don't see this trend changing anytime soon and expect this to continue going into next year.
The company has done a great job in managing its menu. It's constantly evaluating its selection in order to maintain the right balance of new products as well as new offerings. This helps it remain relevant to consumers. One of the company's biggest drivers has been its focus on chicken.
In the United States, McNugget sales were up nearly 10% in the third quarter compared to the previous year. McDonald's featured 4 new dipping sauces which helped increase sales. In addition, it launched a premium chicken sandwich line with a bakery-style whole grain bun that continued to perform strongly.
I expect to see beverages continue to be a big growth driver for the business going forward. The company has benefited from its line of McCafe drinks which have been a big success. This will continue to drive growth as it expands the McCafe line internationally. Another great development was the launch of the smoothie line in the United States. Smoothies added to the company's specialty beverage lineup, which increased total McCafé beverage sales by 16% compared to last year. Due to the company's success, McDonald's is planning to launch the smoothie line in several markets over the next few years.
I'm bullish on McDonald's and view pullbacks as opportunities to buy. The business will continue to grow as the company expands its McCafe line internationally. McDonald's has also been investing heavily in remodeling locations with many expanding their drive-thrus. McDonald's will continue to win by following its plan for success.