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McDonald's execs decline to give forecast, say results 'will be a little bit choppy' in 2017 and 2018

A customer receives an order from an employee at the drive-thru of a McDonald's Corp. restaurant in San Pablo, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer receives an order from an employee at the drive-thru of a McDonald's Corp. restaurant in San Pablo, California.

McDonald's executives declined to provide a specific forecast for earnings and sales in 2017 and 2018.

During an investor day in Chicago on Wednesday, Chief Financial Offer Kevin Ozan skirted around the subject of guidance for the coming two years, saying that he expects "2017 and 2018 will be a little bit choppy" for the Golden Arches.

Ozan noted that refranchising in China and Hong Kong and "big charges" ahead will make comparisons in the next two years difficult to make.

"It won't be apples to apples," Ozan said.

Earlier, McDonald's said it is on track to refranchise 4,000 restaurants by the end of this year — a full year ahead of schedule. That will bring its global franchised percentage to about 93 percent.

The company did release financial targets for 2019 and beyond:

  • Systemwide sales growth of 3 percent to 5 percent;
  • Grow operating margin from the high-20 percent range to the mid-40 percent range;
  • Earnings per share growth in the high-single digits; and
  • Raise the return on incremental invested capital target from the high-teens to the mid-20 percent range.

In the near term, McDonald's focus will be on four pillars: menu innovation, store renovations, digital ordering and delivery.

McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook will appear on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Thursday at 9:00 a.m.