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McDonald's posts earnings of $1.26 a share vs $1.23 expected

McDonald's beat analysts' quarterly earnings and revenue estimates Thursday, but a key sales metric fell short of forecasts as the fast food giant continues its effort to turn around its business.

Customers paid fewer visits to the Golden Arches, dragging global comps lower by 0.7 percent. This was wider than the 0.4 percent drop Wall Street was expecting for the quarter, according to Consensus Metrix.

The company's second-quarter earnings fell to $1.26 per share from $1.40 a share in the year-earlier period. Revenue dropped to $6.50 billion from $7.18 billion a year ago.

McDonald's stock initially traded lower in premarket trade before turning positive. (Click here to track the fast food restaurant giant's shares.)

A McDonald's restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
A McDonald's restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.

Wall Street expected McDonald's to deliver earnings per share of $1.23 on revenue of $6.45 billion, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

"While our second quarter results were disappointing, we are seeing early signs of momentum," CEO Steve Easterbrook said in the release, adding the chain expect positive global comparable sales in the current quarter.

Read MoreMcDonald's all-day breakfast may debut nationwide by October

McDonald's is in the midst of a prolonged turnaround effort to reinvigorate the fast food giant, which CEO Steve Easterbrook is trying to transform in to a "modern, progressive burger company."

One attempt at change at McDonald's has been the restaurant's test of all-day breakfast in some markets in the U.S. Just months after McDonald's began testing all-day breakfast at some of its restaurants, the fast food giant could begin offering it nationwide in October, according to a memo sent this week to domestic franchisees and employees.

Easterbrook has called the U.S., where the company generates roughly half of its operating income, a "burning priority" for the brand. So far, it's taken steps to improve the quality of its food through items like the sirloin third-pounder and artisan chicken and testing a simplified drive-thru menu.