With over 32,000 locations in over 110 countries, McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) is the world's largest fast food restaurant chain. McDonald's operates its own restaurants and franchises its brand to local businesspeople (about 70% of the world's McDonald's restaurants are franchised.) The company experienced a dramatic turnaround in 2003, driven by a two-pronged strategy. In the U.S., McDonald's focused on increasing sales at existing locations by renovating stores, expanding menu options and extending store hours. Internationally, McDonald's expanded aggressively, opting to franchise rather than operate its new locations, providing new income with little overhead.
Both strategies have paid dividends - despite its size, sales have grown by a third since 2003. Domestically, McDonald's continues to perform well despite a pullback in consumer spending and is even benefiting as consumers trade down from more expensive eating options. At the same time, international operations are driving profit growth. A growing global middle class, particularly in emerging markets like China, India, and Latin America, represents a massive opportunity for McDonald's. McDonald's aggressive efforts to expand its global presence - most notably at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics - have produced strong comparable sales and profit growth.(Read more at Wikinvest )